Not even Donald Trump, the Republican presidential frontrunner, included California in a list of Democratic-leaning states that he boasted Friday he could carry in a general election.
But John Kasich, who is running a distant third?
“I will come to California in the general election,” the Ohio governor told reporters at the California Republican Party’s convention outside San Francisco. “I think I can put pressure on Democrats to have to campaign places where we’re going to expand the field.”
California is so heavily Democratic that no Republican holds statewide office and voters have not gone for a Republican presidential candidate since George H.W. Bush in 1988.
Asked to clarify if he could put the state in play in November, Kasich acknowledged California would be “more difficult” than some other states for a Republican.
But he said, “I sure would spend some time here, yeah.”
Kasich trails Trump and Ted Cruz by such a wide margin nationally that his only hope is to force a contested convention. He lags behind in California, too. But Kasich has drawn closest to his competitors in the San Francisco Bay Area, and he could deprive Trump of coveted delegates with victories in congressional districts in that area.
Kasich spoke at a town hall in San Francisco before arriving at the convention for an evening speech on Friday. He was scheduled to conduct a town hall on Saturday in San Jose.
Kasich continued to criticize what he described as the negativity of the campaign, arguing that he is more electable than either Trump or Cruz in a general election. That claim is based on polling that has failed so far to lift his primary campaign.
“Donald Trump … if he were to be picked, he will get crushed in the fall,” Kasich said.