Republicans Cruz, Kasich reach 'stop-Trump' deal

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Ted Cruz and John Kasich join forces to stop Donald Trump

WASHINGTON, April 24 (Reuters) - Republican White House rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich announced a deal on Sunday to stay out of each other's way in some upcoming state primaries in hopes of blocking front-runner Donald Trump from winning the party's presidential nomination.

Cruz's campaign said in a statement he would focus on the Indiana and give Kasich a clearer shot in Oregon and New Mexico, states where the Ohio governor expects to do well. Kasich, in turn, agreed to shift resources west and away from Indiana.

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The Indiana primary is on May 3, Oregon's is May 17 and New Mexico's June 7.

Trump has won the most state nominating contests, but he has a tough path to earn the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination. The Cruz and Kasich campaigns believe their agreement to cede states where the other candidate appears strong could help limit Trump's ability to win more delegates.

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Republicans Cruz, Kasich reach 'stop-Trump' deal
BRIDGEPORT, CT - APRIL 23: A protester is led out of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's rally in Bridgeport on April 23, 2016 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Under a heavy police presence, the afternoon event was disrupted on a number of occasions by protesters. Despite his advisers pledging that Trump will begin using a more presidential tone in his appearances, in Bridgeport Trump did not use a teleprompter and stuck to his usual style. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
BRIDGEPORT, CT - APRIL 23: A protester is led out of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's rally in Bridgeport on April 23, 2016 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Under a heavy police presence, the afternoon event was disrupted on a number of occasions by protesters. Despite his advisers pledging that Trump will begin using a more presidential tone in his appearances, in Bridgeport Trump did not use a teleprompter and stuck to his usual style. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
BRIDGEPORT, CT - APRIL 23: A protester is led out of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's rally in Bridgeport on April 23, 2016 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Under a heavy police presence, the afternoon event was disrupted on a number of occasions by protesters. Despite his advisers pledging that Trump will begin using a more presidential tone in his appearances, in Bridgeport Trump did not use a teleprompter and stuck to his usual style. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
BRIDGEPORT, CT - APRIL 23: Protesters are led out of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's rally in Bridgeport on April 23, 2016 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Under a heavy police presence, the afternoon event was disrupted on a number of occasions by protesters. Despite his advisers pledging that Trump will begin using a more presidential tone in his appearances, in Bridgeport Trump did not use a teleprompter and stuck to his usual style. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
A group of Donald Trump rally attendees walk past Anti-Trump protesters following a campaign rally for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump at The Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S., April 23, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Attendees exit following a campaign rally for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump at The Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S., April 23, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A Donald Trump supporter yells at ant-Trump protesters following a campaign rally for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump at The Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S., April 23, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
People wait to enter before a campaign rally for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump at The Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S., April 23, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A child uses his cellular device before a campaign rally for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump at The Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S., April 23, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A Donald Trump supporter takes signs before a campaign rally for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump at The Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S., April 23, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A vendor moves a trolley of Donald Trump paraphernalia before a campaign rally for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump at The Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S., April 23, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at The Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S., April 23, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at The Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S., April 23, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A Donald Trump rally attendee walk past Anti-Trump protesters following a campaign rally for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump at The Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S., April 23, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in the Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, Connecticut on April 23, 2016. / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in the Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, Connecticut on April 23, 2016. / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
BRIDGEPORT, CT - APRIL 23: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Bridgeport on April 23, 2016 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Under a heavy police presence, the afternoon event was disrupted on a number of occasions by protesters. Despite his advisers pledging that Trump will begin using a more presidential tone in his appearances, in Bridgeport Trump did not use a teleprompter and stuck to his usual style. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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Some Republican strategists who oppose Trump have been calling for such a deal for weeks. The question for Cruz and Kasich is whether their agreement is too late.

If no candidate has enough support by the first vote at the Republican National Convention in July, many delegates will be allowed to switch sides on subsequent ballots.

Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe said Trump, who has offended women, Hispanics and other groups with controversial statements, would lose a general election contest against the eventual Democratic nominee in the Nov. 8 election.

"Our goal is to have an open convention in Cleveland, where we are confident a candidate capable of uniting the party and winning in November will emerge as the nominee," Kasich chief strategist John Weaver said in a statement.

Trump has frequently complained that the Republican Party's nominating process is "rigged" against him because establishment party members oppose him. Party officials argue that the delegate selection rules have been known for some time.

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Dan Scavino, Trump's social media director tweeted: "Two losing candidates joining in an attempt to stop @realdonaldtrump. Americans are so tired of you POLITICIANS!!!"

But the stop-Trump group #NeverTrump welcomed the move.

"Whether you support Ted Cruz or John Kasich, a second ballot at the Convention is imperative to stopping Donald Trump. We're happy to see the Kasich and Cruz campaigns strategically using their resources to deny Donald Trump delegates where they are in the strongest position to do so," said the group's senior director, Rory Cooper.

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