Donald Trump is firmly training his sights on Ohio Gov. John Kasich ahead of Tuesday's winner-take-all Ohio primary
The Republican front-runner spent more time here on Sunday attacking the Ohio governor than any other of his presidential rivals
Donald Trump is training his sights on Ohio Gov. John Kasich ahead of Tuesday’s winner-take-all Ohio primary.
The Republican front-runner spent more time here on Sunday attacking the Ohio governor than any other of his presidential rivals. And after spending more time in Ohio this weekend than any other state, Trump on Sunday announced he was scrapping a scheduled event in Florida to instead rally supporters once more in the Buckeye State.
Trump will now stump Monday night in Youngstown, Ohio – a city emblematic of the decline of the steel industry in Ohio and the broader Rust Belt. The change comes after a series of polls published in the last week have shown Trump with a double-digit lead in Florida, while staring down Kasich’s narrow home state advantage here.
CNN’s average of the most recent polls puts Trump 24 points ahead of Rubio in the Floridian’s home state. In Ohio, Trump is trailing Kasich by 5 and 6 percentage points in polls released this week by Fox News and NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist, respectively.
“I think you’ve gotta show him folks … you can’t be an absentee governor,” Trump said Sunday of Kasich, urging his supporters to get to the polls on Tuesday. “He should go along and be governor.”
The line – similar to Trump’s branding of Sen. Ted Cruz as “Lyin’ Ted” and Rubio as “Little Marco” – is one Trump hopes will resonate with voters here, despite Kasich’s popularity in the state.
Trump’s salvo against Kasich on Sunday mirrored Trump’s focus Saturday as he stumped in two other Ohio cities. The attacks ran the gamut from suggesting Kasich was eschewing his responsibilities as governor to campaign for president to knocking the Ohio governor for not dropping out after placing third in neighboring Michigan’s GOP primary, where Kasich played up his regional appeal.
Trump even blasted Kasich on Sunday for saying that he doesn’t watch much TV news, preferring instead to screen the Golf Channel.
“You’re running for president!” Trump said on Sunday. “He’s not going to do the job.”
Trump also attacked Kasich on trade policy, pointing to his vote for the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, which many blue-collar workers blame for shutting down factories and killing manufacturing jobs in Rust Belt states such as Ohio.
It’s a pitch that Trump is likely to keep making as he makes a play for the governor’s home state.
Trump and Kasich have rarely sparred on the campaign trail, largely because the governor has focused on running what he has dubbed “an unwavering, positive campaign.”
But Kasich on Sunday did tweak Trump over the increasingly violent confrontations that have broken out at the billionaire’s rallies, including fights at the venue for Trump’s scheduled rally in Chicago Friday night, which Trump canceled.
Noting the “toxic atmosphere” he believes Trump has created, Kasich argued Sunday that “our enemies are going to take advantage” of the images of fighting and division at Trump’s rallies.
“Our friends are scratching their heads saying what the heck is happening in America,” Kasich said during a town hall event Sunday in his home state. “Ohio is going to send a message that we don’t accept those kind of tactics.”
Trump’s Ohio focus is part of an effort to sweep the winner-take-all states voting Tuesday in the Republican primary and solidify his standing as his party’s likely nominee. But the real estate mogul’s visit to Youngstown on Monday also signals Trump’s increasing focus on the general election.
Trump has repeatedly touted the crossover appeal he believes he has with Democrats and independents, one that rests in large part on the blue-collar workers who similarly flocked to Ronald Reagan in his successful presidential bids.
CNN’s Cassie Spodak contributed to this report.