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Trump Slams Cruz and Kasich’s Joint Effort Against Him As ‘Sad,’ ‘Weak,’ and ‘Desperate’

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Trump said they are puppets of the Washington machine.Photograph by Molly Riley—AFP/Getty Images

On Sunday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich said their presidential campaigns would embark on a coordinated effort to defeat GOP frontrunner Donald Trump in the race for the Republican party nomination.

Later on Sunday, Trump, whose bid for the White House has been nothing if not unconventional, responded to the announcement in trademark fashion.

“It is sad that two grown politicians have to collude against one person who has only been a politician for ten months in order to try and stop that person from getting the Republican nomination,” the Trump campaign said in a statement released Sunday.

The Cruz campaign said it plans to focus its upcoming efforts on Indiana, while leaving contests in New Mexico and Oregon to Kasich. Cruz and Kasich are both incapable of securing the GOP nomination on the first ballot from a mathematical perspective, and so their collaboration is aimed at blocking Trump from reaching 1,237 delegates—a goal they must attain if they hope to stand a chance at a contested convention.

 

Trump’s answer to his newly united opponents characterized Cruz as being “in free fall” after his poor showing in the New York primary on April 19. Kasich, meanwhile, “has only won [one] state out of 41.” The statement painted both Cruz and Kasich as being highly unpopular among Republican voters. “They are mathematically dead and this act only shows, as puppets of donors and special interests, how truly weak they and their campaigns are.”

Trump reiterated his stance that the Republican primary system is “totally” rigged. He said the new effort to defeat him—while “a horrible act of desperation”—was serving as fresh motivation. It’s “[making] me even more determined, for the good of the Republican Party and our country, to prevail!”

If the new approach to defeating him succeeds, Trump said at rally Sunday that he would likely not deliver a concession speech—another affront to traditional campaign protocol. “I’m not sure you’re ever going to see me there. I don’t think I’m going to lose, but if I do, I don’t think you’re ever going to see me again, folks. I think I’ll go to Turnberry and play golf or something,” he said.

Cruz and Kasich’s move to harmonize their efforts will satisfy anti-Trump forces within the GOP, who have long called for a more coordinated approach to defeating the brusk businessman. The lack of strategy between other GOP contenders has been seen as fostering a political environment that’s allowed Trump to secure more delegates than he would otherwise. It’s also encouraged other Republican hopefuls and affiliated outside groups to spend millions attacking each other instead of the front-runner.