Kasich Shifts Fire from Trump to Bush

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Gov. John Kasich, who in recent weeks aimed steady fire at the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump, has shifted his focus to the onetime presumed favorite, Jeb Bush.

An email by Kasich’s campaign Wednesday morning forwarded coverage by ABC affiliate WMUR of a town hall in Nashua, N.H., Tuesday night.

According to the story, Kasich drew a “sizable crowd” to the meeting despite “lousy weather conditions.” A note at the top of the email pointed out that Bush, a former Florida governor, the brother of one former president and son of another, canceled his scheduled town hall in Peterborough the same day.

“I’ve got 40 days left in this thing and I’m going to just have a ball,” said Kasich, who campaigned in New Hampshire Monday and Tuesday. The New Hampshire primary is Feb. 9.

Mired in single digits for the nomination – 1.8% in the most recent average of national polls by Real Clear Politics, compared with 35.6% for Trump and tied with Mike Huckabee at ninth – Kasich was running third in New Hampshire last week in the American Research Group poll.

Kasich has support from 13% of those polled, behind Trump at 21% and Marco Rubio at 15%. The Real Clear Politics average of recent polls puts Kasich fifth in New Hampshire.

A Dec. 29 release by the Kasich campaign also claimed that a “new attack” with “exaggerated boasts about [Bush’s] record on health care, national security and the economy backfired” the day after an attack by Bush’s team on another candidate’s national security record “blew up” in Bush’s face.

“The latest ad from Jeb’s team forgot to check the box for ‘Which governor is living in the past because he has no new ideas for fixing anything?’ You only attack those you fear and who’s beating you, so this latest attack by Jeb on Gov. Kasich only reaffirms the governor’s strength in New Hampshire,” Kasich press secretary Rob Nichols said in the news release. “It’s actually flattering.”

The Kasich Campaign’s email charged that rather than fight the Affordable Care Act, Bush made $2 million from a company that supported the Affordable Care Act. The statement contrasts that with Kasich’s opposition to establishing an insurance exchange in Ohio and an “Obamacare takeover” of insurance and Medicaid rules in the state.

“[Kasich] sued to block Obamacare, has called to repeal it and replace it and is developing real, market-based alternatives to it in Ohio,” the campaign said. “Did Jeb do anything besides talk and profit?”

The campaign further pointed out that while Bush talks about what he did on jobs in Florida a decade ago, he created fewer jobs than his predecessors while Ohio “created 43,000 new jobs in just the past two months” and more than 380,000 since Kasich took office.

A separate release Monday from New Day for America, the super PAC supporting Kasich, similarly battered the former Florida governor along with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, pointing to the “political baggage dragging behind” both candidates.

“The country doesn’t have an appetite for another Bush or another Clinton, for that matter. As for Gov. Christie, his mishandling of his state budget and the ‘Bridgegate’ scandal have earned him a 60% unfavorable rating from those who know him best — the people of New Jersey,” New Day spokeswoman Connie Wehrkamp said. “Compare that to Gov. Kasich who has no baggage, a huge budget surplus and has earned a 62% approval rating in Ohio, a must-win state in the general election.”

The Ohio primary comes in the middle of the states scheduled to hold presidential primaries, to wit, March 15.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.