Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s rise in New Hampshire is real enough that he’s become a target of his fellow Republican presidential candidates.
Right to Rise, the super PAC aligned with Bush, hits Kasich hard for supporting cuts to defense – including a commission whose recommendation led to the closure of a New Hampshire military base – and slams him for accepting federal money to expand Medicaid, bringing taking the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion to Ohio.
“John Kasich: wrong on New Hampshire issues,” the ad warns.
The pro-Christie America Leads PAC has a mailer out ripping on Kasich’s record, as does the unaligned American Future Fund, targeting Kasich for the Medicaid expansion and supporting Common Core, tying him to President Barack Obama.
“Not a conservative, not a moderate,” the ad says. “An Obama Republican.”
A spokesman for Kasich’s campaign, while defending the governor’s record, indicated this problem is one they don’t mind having.
“As governor, he turned an $8 billion budget hole in Ohio into a $2 billion surplus, while cutting taxes by $5 billion including killing the death tax,” spokesman Chris Schrimpf said. “False attacks are what happens when you rise in the polls, but Gov. Kasich is continuing his positive vision of solving problems.”
Swing Voters hold the Key to Victory in New Hampshire
For much of the Republican primary, Kasich’s campaign has flown under the radar, drowned out by the noise of front-runner Donald Trump’s renegade campaign and the bitter infighting between the GOP’s establishment and anti-establishment wings.
Lumped in with the other current and former governors running for the White House – Bush, who was Florida’s chief executive, and Christie, who holds office in New Jersey – Kasich is duking it out with them and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for the lead in the GOP’s establishment lane. Meanwhile, Trump, the celebrity billionaire, and the Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a favorite of conservative outsiders, are fighting for first place in national polls.
While most of the other candidates’ poll numbers have been mostly flat, Kasich’s approval ratings have been slowly on the rise since December: the website RealClearPolitics has him at 12 percent in its polling average, and they seem poised to peak just in time for the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary. And the governor, who has largely bypassed Iowa, is staking his White House run on a strong showing in the Granite State.