GOP presidential candidate John Kasich delivered his strongest-ever condemnation of Donald Trump’s rhetoric in a phone interview with ABC News today, calling Trump’s talk of “riots” if he does not get the Republican nomination "an outrage."
“It’s completely outrageous,” Kasich told ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl. "For somebody running for president of the United States to say -- to even imply -- that there could be violence if he doesn’t get his way —- you know, he’s not running for the presidency of WWE, he’s running for president of the United States.”
Trump, who is leading the race for the Republican nomination, told CNN Wednesday, “I think you’d have riots,” if a candidate with fewer delegates than he had were to become the party’s nominee during a contested GOP convention this summer.
“This kind of language is an outrage,” Kasich said, "and frankly, these kinds of things just get people very angry. He can get people thinking really crazy things. And you remember another thing: Kids are watching, too. Young people are watching. This is not the way we want to conduct an effort to become president of the United States."
Kasich was the last of his fellow Republican presidential candidates to condemn Trump for the violence at his rallies last week after a man was sucker-punched at a North Carolina rally two days before Trump canceled a rally in Chicago Friday. The governor of Ohio, which will host the Republican party’s nominating convention in Cleveland in July, held a press conference on Saturday during which he said Trump had created a “toxic environment,” and on Tuesday, he hit Trump for some of the comments the businessman had made about women.
Today’s comments, though, were Kasich’s most critical yet after he has largely held back from even explicitly mentioning Trump’s name over the course of his campaign.
"You can’t say, ‘If I don’t win that maybe we’ll have a riot,’” Kasich told ABC News today. "Could you imagine, you know, we’re watching the NCAA tournament -- could you imagine that if the coach said, 'If we don’t win and we don’t think we get fair treatment we may have riots in the stands?' What would we do? That coach would be disciplined and potentially fired."
Kasich told Karl that “any leader who’s worth his weight and worth his salt” who did not win should tell his supporters to “stay calm” and unite "behind the person that did win."
"To imply that if I don’t win that there’s a potential for violence only moves us in the direction of getting people to think that way," Kasich said. "Of course there shouldn’t be violence."
Kasich called on the media to ask Trump about his motivation for suggesting there would be riots. "I don’t understand if it’s designed to stir up his people,” Kasich said. “I don’t know if it’s designed to threaten people. I don’t know if it’s designed just because he’s used floppy language.... There’s a lot of people out here that are shaking their heads saying, ‘What is happening to America?’"
Kasich has acknowledged that his path to the nomination would require coming out on top in a contested convention, but he said it should not be assumed there would be “an ugly fight.”
“Whether I’m running for president or not,” Kasich said, "we don’t expect to have a convention [in Cleveland] where people are going to get out in the streets and cause violence. We will not tolerate it.”