INDIANAPOLIS (April 24, 2016) – Late Sunday night, Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and John Kasich agreed to team up to try and stop Donald Trump from securing the Republican nomination, in hopes of forcing a contested GOP convention.
"It is big news today that John Kasich has decided to pull out of Indiana," Cruz said after a rally in Southern Indiana Monday.
The agreement has Kasich suspending campaign operations in Indiana and Cruz suspending operations in New Mexico and Oregon.
"I don't see this as any big deal," Kasich said Monday. "Other than the fact that I"m not going to spend resources in Indiana. He's not going to spend them in other places. So what? What's the big deal?"
Both campaigns are asking supporters, and third-party groups like Super PACs, to follow their lead.
"It's a strategy that will hopefully allow for an open convention in Cleveland," Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said Monday, co-chair of Kasich's Indiana campaign. "Yeah, I think it's tough for Gov. Kasich supporters to be asked to vote for someone else, but if you stop and think about why it's being done, it makes sense from a strategic standpoint."
Cruz spent the weekend in Indiana, crisscrossing the state during a number of rallies and retail stops.
"Indiana’s voice is going to be heard on a national stage," he said Saturday in Plainfield. "The entire country is looking at the state of Indiana."
Trump responded on Twitter, calling the move an act of desperation.
"Collusion is often illegal in many other industries," his campaign said in a statement. "And yet these two Washington insiders have had to revert to collusion in order to stay alive. They are mathematically dead and this act only shows, as puppets of donors and special interests, how truly weak they and their campaigns are."
Meantime, Trump's Indiana campaign called the move "un-American" and "un-democratic."
"If they want to get cross ways with the electorate, so be it, because the voters of Indiana are going to vote for Trump," Rex Early said last week. "And if their vote don't count, there's going to be some mad people."
On Sunday, CBS News released its latest poll showing Trump leading Indiana 40 percent to Cruz's 35 percent. Kasich polled third with 20 percent.
On Sunday, Cruz held rallies in Terre Haute and Evansville.
"The primary has done the job it's supposed to do," he said. "It has narrowed the field. As we stand here today, there are two people with any plausible path whatsoever to the nomination - me and Donald Trump."
On Monday, Cruz had stops planned in Borden, Columbus, Greenwood and Franklin.
Cruz is scheduled to rally supporters at Huber's Plantation Hall in Borden at 10:30 a.m., followed by a stop at Zaharakos Ice Cream Shop in Columbus at 2 p.m., Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza and Greenwood at 4 p.m., and ending the day with a rally at the Johnson County Fairgrounds in Franklin at 6:30 p.m.
Kasich had a town hall event scheduled Tuesday at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds, which has been canceled, but he's still expected to appear in Indianapolis Tuesday at a private fundraiser.
"I think a lot of people are conflicted," Brainard said. "But again I would encourage those people, how best are they going to support Gov. Kasich, and that is to get to an open convention. This is a path to do that."