Elections

Trump to Kasich: Watch what you say or I’ll sue

Where does Donald Trump stand?

Donald Trump entered the 2016 presidential race on June 16, 2015. Find out where he stands on four of the biggest issues this election: immigration, ISIS, job growth and gay marriage. (Daniel Desrochers/McClatchy DC)
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Donald Trump entered the 2016 presidential race on June 16, 2015. Find out where he stands on four of the biggest issues this election: immigration, ISIS, job growth and gay marriage. (Daniel Desrochers/McClatchy DC)

Say negative things about me that aren’t true, Donald Trump is warning John Kasich, and I’ll sue.

“Watch Kasich squirm – if he is not truthful in his negative ads I will sue him just for fun!” Trump tweeted Thursday night, after Kasich backers unleashed ads questioning Trump’s foreign policy expertise.

Alan Garten, general counsel for the Trump Organization, wrote New Day for America, the SuperPAC running the ads, and Kasich, should the ads contain “any false, misleading, defamatory or otherwise tortious statements representations concerning Mr. Trump’s business or his brand, we will not hesitate to take immediate legal action to prevent such distribution and hold you and your organizations jointly and severally liable to the fullest extent of the law for any damages resulting therefrom.”

New Day for America had a quick comeback.

“Mr. Trump’s been successful in suing his way to financial gain. Unfortunately, you can’t sue your way to the Oval Office,” said New Day for America spokesman Matt David.

“Trump can hire every trial lawyer in the country, but voters will ultimately decide this election. You can’t sue ISIS away. Suing Vladimir Putin won’t evict Russia from the Ukraine. The role of commander in chief requires leadership, not lawyers.”

The threat came as the two Republican candidates engaged in a Twitter war Thursday.

New Day for America released an ad saying Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who are at the top of most Republican presidential polls, aren’t fit to conduct foreign policy. It was the most aggressive ad effort so far challenging the real estate mogul.

On-the-job training for president does not work,” says the announcer. “Benghazi, beheadings, Paris. Our lives depend on a commander in chief with experience, who understands the world.”

Kasich, the governor of Ohio, is then shown speaking at a Florida conference, somber and statesmanlike. “Time is of the essence. Negotiation, ambivalence or delay, are not acceptable,” he said.

The announcer then returns. “The first with a plan to destroy ISIS? John Kasich.” Kasich, a congressman from 1983 to 2001, was a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

The ad, part of a $6.5 million buy in New Hampshire that is scheduled to run through the February 9 primary, is a rare attempt to bring down Trump. Most Republican rivals have avoided such a broad strategy, worried about alienating his supporters, and for that matter, angering him.

Such as Kasich did.

Trump unleashed a barrage of tweets Thursday night. First came Kasich’s “failed campaign and debating skills.” Then his “failed image.” And he was “pathetic.”

Then came the heavy artillery.

“I want to do negative ads on John Kasich, but he is so irrelevant to the race that I don’t want to waste my money,” Trump tweeted. On it went, including the lawsuit threat.

“Once John Kasich announced he was running for president, and opened his mouth, people realized he was a complete & total dud!” Trump said.

Then it was Kasich’s turn. “.@realDonaldTrump wants to bomb Iraq’s oil fields. Hullo $5 gas!” Or “.@RealDonaldTrump: “I really understand what’s going on in Syria...Why are we knocking ISIS? #UmWhat?”

So far, Trump’s got one advantage. A Bloomberg Poll taken after the Nov. 10 debate showed Trump remained the national Republican frontrunner. Kasich was in a four-way tie for sixth at 3 percent.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong day for Trump’s tweets. The correct day was Thursday.

David Lightman: 202-383-6101, @lightmandavid

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