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Ohio Gov. John Kasich holds a town hall in Wolfeboro, N.H. on July 23rd

Jul 30, 2015 11:59 PM

Steinhauser: Kasich's top strategist tells NH1 News we'll 'be spending a lot of time' in NH

NH1 Political Director - NH1.com

CONCORD – When John Kasich returns to New Hampshire Friday, he arrives back in a much better poll position than where he stood when he was last in the Granite State eight days ago.

The Republican governor of Ohio stands at 7% in two new surveys of likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters released in the last couple of days: NBC News/Marist and Monmouth University. That’s an improvement from Granite State polls in June, when he stood in the low single digits.

And he’s edging up in national polls, putting him in contention to make the stage in Cleveland next Thursday, at the first GOP presidential nomination debate. He stands at 5% in a new Quinnipiac University survey and 4% in a CNN/ORC poll.

What’s behind the rise?

Announcing for president helped. Kasich launched his White House campaign on July 21 on the campus of The Ohio State University, his alma mater. He then proceeded to come right to New Hampshire, spending three straight days campaigning in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

The other factor, at least in New Hampshire, are the ads. New Day for America, the outside group backing Kasich’s presidential bid, the past two weeks has been carpeting the Granite State with television ads produced by famed media consultant Fred Davis.

A source with knowledge of New Day for America’s spending says the group’s already shelled out $3 million to run the spots on New Hampshire airwaves, with the current buy running through Tuesday of next week. The source anticipates another ad buy in the very near future.

Friday Kasich campaigns in the southwestern part of the Granite State, with events in Keene, Spofford, and Swanzey. It’s his eight trip to the state this year, and the second since his launching his campaign.

“Every campaign has their own path to the nomination. Some people go through Iowa. Some people go through New Hampshire. Some people mistakenly think that they can lose early and win late, which never happens. We think that New Hampshire is ideally suited for the governor, so we’re going to be spending a lot of time here,” senior campaign strategist John Weaver said in an interview with NH1 News.

“We’ll compete everywhere. We’re going to put resources in Iowa, we’re going to put resources in South Carolina. In Michigan. Michigan, I think, is a very important state for us and others in the race, but it begins here,” added Weaver.

Weaver, a top strategist in both of Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaigns, was chief strategist for Jon Huntsman’s 2012 bid.

“I love New Hampshire. This will be my fourth primary here. So I’ve got two first place finishes and a third. That’s a pretty good record. What I like about New Hampshire is that voters take it very seriously,” Weaver said.

Two top Granite State GOP consultants who remain neutral in the 2016 nomination hunt give the Kasich campaign good grades so far.

“He has been positive and refuses to talk negatively about others. It’s an excellent launch buttressed by smart use of paid TV in New Hampshire,” said Tom Rath, a former state attorney general and a top adviser to both of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns.

“He understands the New Hampshire slingshot- doing well in polls here has a direct impact on the national polls. And he is giving New Hampshire a lot of love,” Rath added.

David Carney, the longtime top political adviser to then-Texas governor Rick Perry, said “spending money always helps, and the media likes his unorthodoxy with Republican party values ala Huntsman.”

Carney also described Kasich as a “fresh face” enjoying the “newest shiny object effect.”

It appears the Kasich campaign will follow the model of some of the other presidential campaigns, in letting the outside groups backing the candidate produce the ads, at least for now.

Asked if the Kasich campaign will go up with television spot soon, Weaver said “we will focus on retail and earned media, building out our organization here.”

Resume and Retail

Kasich appears to be running in a crowded lane full of other moderate and establishment Republican candidates, such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and longshots like Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and former New York Gov. George Pataki.

It’s pretty obvious that the campaign thinks Kasich’s resume will help set him apart from the rest of the field. The two-term Ohio governor currently enjoys sky high approval ratings at home. That stands in contrast to the other incumbent governors running: Christie, Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

But Kasich also spent nearly two decades in Congress.

“We have a candidate who has an unparalleled record that nobody else in the field can match, both as a leader in Congress balancing the budget. Serving on the Armed Services Committee, he has foreign policy experience that no one else has. And his record as governor is unmatched. And his popularity at home in Ohio, a major swing state that Republicans have to capture in order to win the White House, sets him apart,” Weaver touted.

“But I think just as important as his record and his vision is his ability to communicate and connect with the everyman in America. That’s going to begin here in New Hampshire. I think we’ve already seen that across the state where he can take questions, but he’s a very empathetic man. This kind of reminds me where we were in 1999 with John McCain. Organically as more and more people sign on I feel very good about it,” Weaver added.

Rath seems to agree.

"He seems to speak in a voice that voters understand. He talks to them in a straight forward way.”

Carney seems to be a bit more skeptical.

“The test will be can he sustain” his current momentum “over the next three months.”


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