Cruz is battling not only Trump, but Kasich now? See what he has to do to win the nomination. At this point, would it be wise for him to strike a deal with Trump?
HOUSTON — After months squaring off against Senator [score]Marco Rubio[/score] of Florida, presuming him to be the chief obstacle to a one-on-one showdown with Donald J. Trump, Senator [score]Ted Cruz[/score] on Wednesday emerged from the latest Republican primaries with a new foe who was actually there all along: Gov. John Kasich of Ohio.
The transition seemed a bit jarring for all involved. The men had scarcely said a cross word about each other before Tuesday night’s contests.
There had been little need. While Mr. Cruz, of Texas, has moved to consolidate support among evangelical and Tea Party voters, Mr. Kasich has made a play for party moderates, outlasting establishment rivals like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Mr. Rubio, who dropped out Tuesday after losing his home state.
Now, it seems, Mr. Cruz and Mr. Kasich will get to know each other a bit better. And their opening gambits were to argue that the other has no chance of becoming president .
“There are only two people who actually have a viable path to the nomination,” Jason Johnson, Mr. Cruz’s chief strategist, told reporters. “There’s one spoiler in the race: John Kasich.”
Mr. Johnson likened Mr. Kasich’s run to some quixotic ambitions of his own. “It’s like my dream of making the senior tour on the P.G.A. or my dream of being a Nascar driver,” he said. “It ain’t going to happen.”
Mr. Kasich countered on Wednesday by suggesting that Mr. Cruz, along with Mr. Trump, was too extreme to attract wide support in the fall.
“Neither of those guys can win a general election,” he told reporters after a town hall-style event outside Philadelphia. “So maybe they’re spoiling it for the Republican Party and for the conservative movement.”
So far, little of the sparring has focused on substance. Late Tuesday evening, as election returns still trickled in, senior Cruz aides seemed unsure how they might proceed against Mr. Kasich.
Jeff Roe, Mr. Cruz’s campaign manager, suggested the senator stood to gain little from attacks on his unlikely rival.