WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican presidential campaign trail is crackling with talk of a partnership and pancakes.
The Associated Press asked voters in Indiana, Oregon and New Mexico how they felt about Cruz and Kasich striking an extraordinary accord to avoid competing with each other in an effort to block Trump’s relentless — but not yet successful — march toward the Republican nomination. Under the agreement announced late Sunday night, Kasich won’t compete in Indiana, while Cruz bows out of the contests in Oregon and New Mexico over the next six weeks. The idea is to keep Trump from winning the 1,237 delegates required to clinch the party’s presidential nomination.
Trump huffed that his rivals are concerned that Trump is poised for big gains when five states vote on Tuesday. Their deal, he complained repeatedly Monday, is dishonest. And Americans shouldn’t want a guy for president who eats pancakes the way Kasich does, Trump groused.
Here’s a look at how voters in the trio of states divvied up by Cruz and Kasich view their deal.
“For Oregon, we’re not going to make a big difference in things. It doesn’t bother me at all (Kasich-Cruz teaming up)…..Whoever gets the nomination I’ll support. It’s all theater, I think they all do this for drama and put out press releases.”
–Craig Herman, 66, Oregon City resident, registered Republican voter.
“I don’t feel there’s one candidate that even comes close to representing anything I stand for. I’m mixed on a lot of things, I’m pro-choice, I’m also pro-guns…As for Cruz and Kasich teaming up to take on Trump, I think it just adds one more chapter to the circus of the Republican Party.”
–Rickey Story, 37, resident of Milwaukie, Ore., and a registered Independent voter.
“Silly,” is how Ed Kasados, 78, described the Cruz-Kasich pact. The Los Ranchos de Albuquerque resident says he’s a likely Kasich voter, even though he believes the agreement won’t help the Ohio governor win the GOP nomination. He says he’ll vote for “anybody but Hillary” in the general election.
Billy and Joan Mondragon, an Albuquerque couple, said they like Kasich because he is an experienced and down-to-earth candidate. They don’t trust Trump and say they’re skeptical that the agreement between Cruz and Kasich would lead to the nomination for either of them.
“I think they’re doing whatever they can to beat Trump, but I’m not sure it’s going to make a difference,” Joan Mondragon said.
“Kind of sneaky,” is how Joe Conder, a 75-year-old retired civil engineer from Scottsville, Indiana, described the Kasich-Cruz deal. He said he’s undecided between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump — but that the announced deal didn’t make the Texas senator look good. He said he would vote for a “three-legged, brain-dead, orangutan as long as it was conservative.”
Iraq war veteran Michael Thielmeier, 28, said he already had one signed copy of Cruz’s autobiography and brought another to a rally Monday morning in Bordon to get it autographed for his daughters, ages 1 and 4. He said the deal is “not something I expected, but at the same time, I do see Trump as a being a total failure as a president and also as the nominee and if that’s what has to be done, I feel like that’s a strategy (Cruz) has to take to get across his vision.”
“I see it as being smart, calculated, knowledgeable,” Thielmeier said. “I don’t see it as an insider deal, I see it as a surprise but that’s not the same thing.”
“It’s collusion,” Trump says of the deal, speaking at a rally in Rhode Island.
“If you collude in business or if you collude in the stock market, they put you in jail. But in politics, because it’s a rigged system, because it’s a corrupt enterprise, in politics you’re allowed to collude,” Trump says.
But Trump says he’s actually OK with the decision because it demonstrates his rivals’ weakness.
“It shows how weak they are. It shows how pathetic they are,” he said.
Besides, Trump said, Americans shouldn’t want a president who holds a news conference while eating pancakes. “I have never seen a human being eat in such a disgusting fashion,” he said.
Associated Press writers Laurie Kellman in Washington, Kristena Hansen in Portland, Oregon, Mary Hudetz in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Will Wiessert in Scottsville, Indiana, and Jill Colvin in West Chester, Pennsylvania, contributed to this report.