Aug 12, 2015 10:32 PM
NH1 Political Director - NH1.com
DERRY – What a difference a debate makes.
John Kasich was drawing respectable crowds during his recent campaign swings in New Hampshire. But Wednesday, in his first trip back to the Granite State since he grabbed positive reviews from his performance in last week’s first Republican presidential debate, the Ohio governor spoke before his largest crowd to date in New Hampshire.
“I can’t believe all the people that are here. I’m touched by it. I wish my wife was here to see this,” Kasich said to a standing room only audience at a jam-packed VFW in Derry.
Kasich’s campaign told NH1 News that approximately 250 attended the town hall, the second of his two day swing through the first-in-the-nation primary state.
At the event, former state Attorney General Tom Rath. It was the first official day on the job for Kasich for the veteran Concord based GOP consultant who’s served as a national adviser for the presidential campaigns of President George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, Bob Dole, Lamar Alexander and Howard Baker. This cycle, Rath remained neutral since Romney’s brief 2016 flirtation came to an end on January 30.
Since then, Rath’s been courted by numerous GOP presidential campaigns. Asked by NH1 News why he decided to go with Kasich, Rath said “I like his message. I find him to be an inclusive generous politician who understands how to make government work. He has respect for people. He’s had a great success in Congress and as a governor and he understand right now this is not a time to be setting people against each other but trying to find ways to bring people together. He’s optimistic and I think we need that.”
Rath joked the Kasich’s “made great strides lately and my principal job will be not to screw it up. I’ll do whatever they want. Set up the chairs, I’ll go get the sodas for the meetings. I think I’m an ambassador without portfolio. I’ve done this long enough so if they need me they’ll talk to me and I’ll obviously have a significant, hopefully helpful role, in New Hampshire and what happens beyond we’ll see where that goes, but I’m content that I’ll be able to help him.”
As Kasich arrived in the first-in-the-nation primary state Tuesday, a new survey of people likely to vote in next February’s GOP primary indicated the Ohio governor rising into double digits. According to Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald, Kasich was at 12%, trailing only front-runner Donald Trump (18%) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (13%). The poll was conducted entirely after last Thursday’s debate in Cleveland.
Asked by NH1 News what Kasich’s doing right, Rath said “a couple of things. One, he has a really good message. And it’s optimistic. People respond to it. He’s got a record that he can back it up with. I think as a tactic, the early media helped a lot. It was very positive, it was about his resume, which is a strong part, and people like him.”
“Plus Kasich has had a tendency where ever he’s been, after he’s there people say ‘I like him.’ And in the last month or so as I’ve moved around, his name keeps coming up, out of the public itself without any prompting. And I think that’s been accentuated since the debate, in which he stood out as a reasonable thoughtful guy. And I think these numbers are going to go all over the place between now and then but this is a good place for him to be right now,” Rath added.
Joining Rath at the Derry town hall was former Sen. John E. Sununu, who's been backing Kasich since the Ohio governor formally launched his presidential campaign last month.
Kasich returns to the Granite State in one week. Next Wednesday he’ll join a bunch of rivals for the GOP nomination at an education summit held at Londonderry high school. And as first reported by NH1 News, Kasich will also hold an afternoon town hall in Salem, New Hampshire.
Another sign of Kasich's rise is that he's now more in the sites of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.
“Yet again, Kasich is falling in line with Republicans who want to take away benefits from hard-working Granite Staters that are close to retirement. John Kasich is not only telling Americans he’ll cut their Social Security benefits, but is also talking about putting those benefits on Wall Street… from a guy who made millions on Wall Street,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley, in a statement. “That’s pretty rich.”
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