-- In the final days before the Wisconsin primary, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz strengthened his efforts against rival John Kasich by launching a television ad and sending mailers attacking the Ohio governor.
The 30-second television ad released by the Cruz campaign this weekend explores Kasich's ties to Worthington Industries, a Fortune 500 company in Ohio that last year laid off hundreds of employees, including 115 in Ohio.
In addition to the television ad, the Cruz campaign also sent mailers to Wisconsinites attacking Kasich's spending policy as governor of Ohio, and his stances on guns and the military. This is the first time the Cruz campaign has run a negative ad against Kasich.
"Right before John Kasich was governor, he collected $611,000 from a Fortune 500 company. After Kasich became governor, that same company received 619 grand [$619,000] in state tax breaks for job creation but last year the company laid off 100 Ohioans even as its CEO cut a half-million dollar check to Kasich's super PAC. John Kasich: Not for us," says the narrator in the commercial.
Kasich's chief strategist John Weaver called the television ad "deceptive" and an effort to smear Kasich.
"Ted Cruz is recycling failed Democrat attacks in a desperate effort to smear Gov. Kasich," Weaver said in a statement.
Weaver also lobbed his own shots in return, pointing to a loan from Goldman Sachs that Cruz had failed to disclose with the FEC during his campaign for his Senate seat and adding that Cruz "has never helped create any jobs."
"On the other hand, Ted Cruz has never helped create any jobs, but did get a sweetheart loan from Goldman Sachs; a loan that he illegally failed to disclose during his Senate run," Weaver said. "Cruz's attack and own hypocrisy are further proof that the voters can't trust him and he will do anything to win."
Cruz has said that the failure to disclose the Goldman Sachs loan was the result of a "paperwork error" and said he filed it on another public form.
Kasich spokesman Mike Schrimpf called the mailers sent by Cruz's campaign "more desperate distortions and underhanded attacks by Ted Cruz."
The Cruz campaign fired back at the Kasich campaign's criticism of the television ad and mailers.
"Despite having no pathway to the nomination, Kasich insists on continuing his quixotic auditioning tour to become Donald Trump's Vice President. So far his greatest strength has been anonymity -- we're simply shining some light on his record," said Catherine Frazier, national press secretary and spokeswoman for Cruz.
The two men are in a battle to knock the other out and become the sole beneficiary of the anti Donald Trump vote. Kasich trails Cruz in the race nationally and within Wisconsin. A Marquette University Law School poll showed Kasich trailing Cruz by nearly 20 points in the Badger state.
Cruz has said there is no mathematical way for Kasich to reach the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the GOP presidential nomination and he is thus acting as a "spoiler" to Cruz.
Kasich has made it clear he is holding on for a contested GOP convention and has argued that a contested convention is an extension of the political process that would serve as a learning experience for young Americans. Today on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopolous," he said such a convention would be "so much fun.”
Cruz has said that Kasich shouldn't be eligible to be on the ballot at a contested convention unless he's won a majority in eight states, which current RNC rules call for. Both Cruz and Trump have met that threshold but Kasich has not.