Aug 28, 2016 10:18 PM
NH1 News Political Director
CONCORD – In what was part “thank you” for 2016 and possibly a preview for 2020, John Kasich gathered with around 125 top supporters, advisers and friends in New Hampshire on Sunday evening.
The Ohio governor and former Republican presidential candidate held the event at the Concord Country Club. While the gathering was billed as a way to personally thank supporters for their help in Kasich’s bid for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, talk of another possible White House bid by Kasich was on the mind of many in attendance.
Kasich was introduced by former U.S. Sen. John E Sununu, a longtime friend and close adviser to chaired the Ohio governor’s campaign in the Granite State. The crowd went wild when Sununu described Kasich as "the man we all hope someday will be president of the United States.”
Kasich, in his comments, said that "the politics of the future is going to be about how we pull people together.”
That could be taken as a slight against GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, who Kasich has not endorsed for president. Kasich remains a vocal critic of Trump, and has not endorsed the GOP nominee.
This trip’s sparking more speculation that the two-term Ohio governor and former longtime congressman may run again for the White House in 2020 if Trump loses November’s presidential election. Kasich’s remained active on the campaign trail this summer, traveling to battleground states to help support vulnerable Republicans running for re-election.
Last month’s Republican National Convention was held in Cleveland, in Kasich’s home state. While the governor was in the city, overseeing security for the event, he never attended the convention, which landed him plenty of criticism.
Kasich told the crowd about that grief he got for skipping the convention, but added "thank God for Ted Cruz, he kinda bailed me out.”
The senator from Texas, who along with Kasich battled Trump deep into the primary calendar, was widely criticized for refusing to endorse Trump when he addressed the convention on the evening before the nominee spoke.
From long shot to key contender
Kasich started visiting the Granite State in the spring of 2015. He formally launched his campaign in July, making New Hampshire his first stop after announcing his bid at an event at The Ohio State University. Kasich spent much of time and resources on the campaign trail in the Granite State. He held more town hall style events in New Hampshire than any other candidate in either party.
All his efforts paid off. Kasich’s runner up finish to Trump in the first-in-the-nation primary boosted his once longshot bid for the Republican nomination. He stayed in the race until early May, when he suspended his campaign
Two or his top Granite States supporters, former U.S. Sen. Gordon Humphrey and conservative activist Peter Thomson, the son and former chief of staff to former Gov. Meldrim Thomson, also spoke to the crowd on Sunday evening.
Humphrey, along with the younger Thomson, who served nearly 23 years as the coordinator of the Highway Safety Agency and is owner of Mt. Cube Farm in Orford, presented Kasich with some maple syrup made at Thomson’s farm.
Bruce Burke, a longtime friend who assisted Kasich in New Hampshire in both his 2000 and 2016 bids, told NH1 News that it was a “great reception for the governor, who was very pleased to see and thank so many friends and supporters.”
“Frankly, his talk with his supporters was like a breath of fresh air compared to what we’ve been hearing from others” recently on the presidential campaign trail, Burke added.
Kasich spokesman Chris Schrimpf told NH1 News that “the governor was thrilled to see so many supporters who made the effort to come out and see him. He thanked them for their work and support and urged them to keep working to fix their communities and live a life bigger than themselves.”
Also attending the event were a bunch of Kasich’s top New Hampshire supporters, Ruth Griffin, who served 20 years on the Executive Council, former state House speaker Doug Scamman, who served 13-terms in the state House, and his wife Stella, a former state representative, former U.S. Rep. Chuck Douglas, 2016 congressional candidate state Rep. Jack Flanagan, and former NHGOP chairman Fergus Cullen.
Kasich to formally back Sununu for governor
On Monday, as was first reported two weeks ago by NH1 News, Kasich will formally endorse and campaign with Chris Sununu, the three-term member of the Executive Council who’s running for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. He will also help fundraise for Sununu.
Kasich will team up with both Chris Sununu and his older brother, John E. Sununu, at a news conference at the Legislative Office Building in Concord at 11:30am.
At 12:45pm Kasich and Chris Sununu are scheduled to walk through downtown Exeter, along with state Sen. Russell Prescott, who’s running for Sununu’s open seat on the Executive Council.
"It's been too many years since New Hampshire has had a Republican governor and Chris Sununu is the right choice to win in November. As a business leader he understands how to grow New Hampshire's economy and keep taxes low to grow jobs and new businesses,” Schrimpf told NH1 News recently.
With Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan challenging GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte instead of running for re-election, the race for the Corner Office is wide open.
Besides Sununu, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, state Sen. Jeanie Forrester and state Rep. Frank Edelblut are running for the Republican nomination.
Executive Counselor Colin Van Ostern, Mark Connolly, who served nearly a decade as the state's top financial watchdog, and former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand are campaigning for the Democratic nomination.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich with Doug and Stella Scamman at the Concord Country Club on Sunday August 28th, 2016
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