Question: Why in John Kasich still in the race for the Republican nomination?
Answer: To be Donald Trump's vice president.
Question: So why is he still fighting for delegates?
Answer: To have a dowry to present to Trump in return for the vice presidential nomination.
The nuptials are scheduled for July 18 in Cleveland. Save the date.
The groom: Donald Trump who may, otherwise fall 200 or 300 votes short of a first ballot nomination. He knows that Ted Cruz has out-organized him for the second ballot — when the Cruz delegates can rip off their Trump shirts and flaunt their true loyalty. So he realizes that he must go for broke and win at all costs on the first ballot. He never much liked John Kasich, but he's growing on him.
The bride: John Kasich who has no other path to the nomination and is term limited. He faces an early retirement in 2018 if he doesn't get nominated for something this year. He also never really clicked with Donald, but the mutual attraction is growing.
The dowry: Kasich now has 143 delegates but hopes to pick up 50 or 60 more in New York and other nearby states so he can present to The Donald enough first ballot delegates to get him nominated. Much of the dowry consists of Ohio delegates where, as governor, Kasich can presumably enforce his will on how they vote on the second ballot. For the others, he just has to hope he picked the right people.
Does Kasich want to be vice president? Nobody does — until they do. En route to a future vice presidency, Nelson Rockefeller once said, "I never wanted to be vice president of anything." And then he was under Gerald Ford and served with appropriate anonymity.
Being Trump's vice president is no bargain for anyone. Donald is not exactly the collegial sort. But even a lonely office inside the White House is better than political vagrancy and unemployment outside it.
How will Kasich's supporters react to his new marriage? Most are liberals who will look askance at a ticket with Trump and may be reluctant to be his enablers. But they have in common their loyalty to Kasich and their IOU for getting them elected on his slate, so they'll go along.
And Trump's people? It will cause a momentary pang that he is turning to a pro-amnesty establishment candidate for his vice president, but they can read the math as well as anybody. They likely realize that Trump cannot get into the final unless he first makes a stop at the altar.
But will the stop at the altar, alter Trump? Not likely. The Donald is the Donald, and it's hard to see him deferring to Kasich's views on anything. Trump may be a good husband — all his exes say so — but one doubts how generous a political partner he would be.
This very independence will lead Trump's voters to accept their new vice president with stoicism.
Where will this leave Ted Cruz or those who feel a Trump nomination would be a disaster for the party and worry that Donald cannot overcome his high negative rating among women?
Out in the cold.
Can Cruz stop the nuptials? Can he be the one who stands and registers his objection when the minister asks if there are any? Only if he can hold Kasich below the dowry of delegates necessary to nominate Trump.
He and his supporters have to see their opposition as Trump+Kasich and not deceive themselves that they face a divided opposition.
Realpolitik will prevail.