What a nasty way to begin a political convention in America’s top battleground state.
After moving Ohio’s delegates from their front-and-center seats to the back wall behind the Pennsylvania delegation, Donald Trump’s campaign manager declared war on Governor John Kasich, claiming he is being “petulant” and “embarrassing his party in Ohio.”
Paul Manafort was making reference to Kasich’s refusal to endorse Trump and his decision not to attend the convention in Cleveland.
Manafort then went further, claiming Ohio’s GOP Senator Rob Portman is angry with Kasich.
“He’s very upset with John Kasich,” said Manafort of Portman. “Because John Kasich is hurting him.”
That prompted a fast and angry denial by the Portman campaign.
“That’s totally false,” said Portman spokesman Corry Bliss. “Rob Portman and John Kasich are working hand in hand to defeat Ted Strickland and any suggestion otherwise is inaccurate.”
Portman, who is also skipping the convention, is in a tough reelection battle with former Democratic Governor Ted Strickland.
To be waging war against top Ohio Republicans is a risky move for Trump. Kasich’s popularity in the state is high, and he controls the Ohio Republican Party. Trump lost the states primary to Kasich back in March, and he has not spoken to him for months.
No Republican presidential candidate in history has ever reached 270 electoral votes without winning Ohio in the November election.
Kasich’s campaign chairman John Weaver went so far as to call Trump’s campaign a “clown show.”
— John Weaver (@JWGOP) July 18, 2016
Ohio’s GOP chairman Matt Borges is also unhappy with the Trump campaign, concerned the battle in the Buckeye State may be over before it starts.
Manafort still has a lot to learn about Ohio politics. Doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Hope he can do better. https://t.co/3i6gBg2ZXD
— Matt Borges (@ChairmanBorges) July 18, 2016
“It’s not wise and, while they may think it’s good for their campaign, they’re wrong,” Borges told the New York Times, adding that he expected the Trump’s campaign to “fix it.”
One thing is historically clear in all this: A Republican presidential candidate who loses Ohio loses the election.