PORTLAND, Ore. -- At his first public event since Monday, and the kickoff of an Oregon campaign that he cut a deal with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) to get going, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) was in a mellow mood. Three time zones away, in Indiana, Cruz was attacking the very idea that he and Kasich had forged an "alliance" in three upcoming primary states. Kasich saw no reason to deny it.
"Look, it's a matter of resources, where we can most effectively apply them," Kasich told reporters outside a town hall meeting here. "The deal is, is that I'm not spending my time there. He's not spending his time in Oregon and New Mexico. And then we'll all probably be competing in California. I mean, I can't tell you what the future brings, but that's all it is. There's been a lot more made of it than what there is."
As Kasich spoke, his burgeoning team of local endorsers mingled with voters and campaign staff. Monica Wehby, the GOP's unsuccessful 2014 candidate for U.S. Senate, talked with Kasich strategist John Weaver -- who had cryptically tweeted about "liars" after Cruz denied the primary deal. Jeff Gudman, a candidate for state treasurer, said that he worried about his own race if Donald Trump won the Republican nomination.
The "deal" had come under fire since its Sunday night announcement, with some of the shots coming from Kasich's own endorsers. Asked what he would say to voters who considered it to be collusion, Kasich shrugged.
"I understand that, but it's all about resources and strategy and making sure that Hillary Clinton is not gonna be president," he said.
At the town hall itself, Kasich had once again punted on a chance to criticize his rivals for the nomination. When one voter asked how the candidate could compete with a "jerk" who was destroying America's "moral fabric," Kasich pivoted to Trump's electability, and insisted that Republican voters could stop him by denying him a first-ballot nomination.
"If Donald Trump goes to a convention, short of the exact number he needs, he's not gonna get picked," said Kasich to applause. "He needs about 60 percent of the remaining delegates. Is he gonna get 60 percent? I don't know if he will. Maybe he will. But when you've got a 73 percent negative rating with married women, and you go to a convention, and you lose 50 straight polls to Hillary Clinton, and you're gonna lose the electoral college, and if you're the nominee the Republicans lose the Senate and the Supreme Court? I don't think so."
Kasich didn't criticize Cruz, either -- or Carly Fiorina, who has said that he should drop out of the race.
"Good for him and good for her," said Kasich, asked if he would pick a running mate before the convention. "Good for them. I hope they're gonna like each other, stick together, do well. I don't wish any ill will on them and it's not gonna change my timetable."
And asked if he would still reject an offer to be Trump's vice president, Kasich deployed pure sarcasm.
"You know, if George Washington came back from the dead, I might think about it with him," said Kasich. "But that'd be about it. I'm not gonna be vice president to anybody. If this doesn't work out, I'm gonna be governor of Ohio for two years, and then I intend to probably get into the press and harass politicians."
Kasich, who hosted a Fox News show between his stints in politics, was set to make a campaign stop in southern Oregon, then spend the weekend stumping in California.