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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

By Emily Stephenson and Amanda Becker

MANCHESTER, N.H. (Reuters) – U.S. Republican presidential candidate John Kasich is polling in the low single digits nationally but may be poised to play the role of spoiler in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary by cutting into the support of higher-profile rivals such as Marco Rubio.

The Ohio governor, who is vowing to erase the U.S. budget deficit without shredding the safety net for poor Americans, has built a base of support among moderate Republicans and independent voters, who wield special clout in New Hampshire because they can vote in either party’s primary.

Kasich, 63, has the support of about 12 to 14 percent of New Hampshire’s voters in recent polls. The former congressman has staked the viability of his White House aspirations on New Hampshire, whose pivotal primary is part of the state-by-state contests to pick the party nominees for the Nov. 8 election to replace Democratic President Barack Obama.

While well behind billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump, Kasich’s poll numbers are close to those of Rubio, a U.S. senator from Florida who is seeking to build on his momentum after a third-place finish in last Monday’s Iowa caucuses behind Trump and winner Ted Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas.

“I found great clarity here in New Hampshire,” Kasich said on Sunday in Concord. “These town halls, you know, they’re getting bigger and I don’t know how I feel about them getting bigger.”

The event marked his 102nd town hall in the state. For the 100th, in Bedford on Friday, the campaign celebrated with confetti and a cake that was served to voters attending the event.

Kasich told stories of personal connections he said he had made with voters at town halls, including with a woman whose daughter has struggled with addiction.

“She said: ‘My daughter has been sober for 11 months,’” Kasich said, asking the crowd: “Do you have any idea what this lady’s life is like?'”

He added he had promised to call the daughter and tell her: “Your mom is counting on you.”

    

RISING PROFILE?

The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll put Kasich’s support nationally at 3.4 percent. Kasich himself jokes about his lack of name recognition, saying voters often mispronounce his last name.

But among New Hampshire voters, a Monmouth University poll released on Sunday found Kasich at 14 percent, compared with 30 percent for Trump and 13 percent for Rubio and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Rubio was criticized last year by Republican strategists who said he had not done enough to woo voters in New Hampshire in intimate settings such as coffee shops and town halls. This year, however, he has campaigned intensively in the state and often holds town halls.

But Rubio came under heavy attack in the Republican presidential debate on Saturday from rivals who accused him of being too inexperienced for the White House.

Kasich delivered a positive message during the debate that could appeal to New Hampshire Republican voters, who famously make up their minds late and never seem in the mood to follow the lead of the Iowa caucuses.

Some of Kasich’s supporters are passionate about him.

“It’s authenticity, brother. You have my vote,” one man told him at the Bedford town hall.

Others were weighing their options.

Tim Vanblommesteyn, 62, who attended the Kasich town hall in Concord, said he was “disgusted” with both political parties but liked some of what the Ohio governor had to say.

The small-business owner and self-described independent praised Kasich for taking what he said was a “principled stand” on immigration reform, an issue that has aroused fiery campaign rhetoric, including from Trump, who has called for deporting illegal immigrants.

Kasich has said the United States should secure its borders but that illegal immigrants who have not committed a crime should be able to pay back taxes and get on a path to legalization.

Anne Brena, 53, a Democrat from neighboring Vermont, said she came to the Concord event to learn more about the governor.

Brena said she thought Democrat Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator from her home state, was too liberal to win the general election and she has concerns that his rival, former Secretary of Stat Hillary Clinton, has too much “baggage” to win the White House.

“John Kasich is the only Republican that sounds reasonable,” she said.

(Reporting by Emily Stephenson and Amanda Becker; Editing by Caren Bohan and Peter Cooney)

Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate John Kasich speaks to voters during a campaign town hall in Nashua, New Hampshire, February 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

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17 responses to “Potential New Hampshire Spoiler Kasich Could Pose Threat To Rubio”

  1. Mr Corrections says:

    They’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel if Kasich is now their best hope.

  2. yabbed says:

    Republicans are allergic to reasonableness. Kasich would not be a fit President but he shines when compared to the other misfits and degenerates on the stage with him.

  3. FireBaron says:

    As a reminder, Kasich was the principal architect of Dubya’s economic policy during his first term.

    • Eleanore Whitaker says:

      Yes…and we all know how well that didn’t work don’t we? How did Kasich miss the same Sept. 2008 Financial Meltdown coming in Bush’s 8th year of presidency? How did Kasich miss the 8 million the DOL reported were unemployed in just 4 years from 2004 to 2008?

      The point here is that the Republicans had an 8 year opportunity to advance this country and instead “took it back.” Do you know ANY Americans stupid enough to want a redoux of the 8 disastrous Bush years?

  4. Blueberry Hill says:

    Has anyone noticed that Kasich is quietly defunding Planned Parenthood? That should be a non-starter for women voters. We certainly don’t want a president who will defund Planned Parenthood for the entire country. He’s been anti-women in all his workings.
    Check him out before you vote.

    ..

    • stcroixcarp says:

      I would NEVER vote for him because he is way too conservative, but I do think he has a few ounces of humanity in him, an inch or two of reason. I think I could personally like him. The other GOPers, including Baby Face Rubio creep me out.

      • Blueberry Hill says:

        There isn’t a single one of them who is Presidential material. The Carnival Barker is awful too. Hasn’t said one thing about how he would fix anything, except to make things worse.

        ..

      • Sand_Cat says:

        At least he wouldn’t be a national embarrassment, not that the GOP “base” would notice if he were.

  5. I of John says:

    Kasich is a wayyyyyy long shot at this point. Might as well buy a lottery ticket.

    • Mr Corrections says:

      Overall, yes. But the two most recent post-debate-only polls I can find show him equal to or leading Rubio. If he is within 1-2%, look for him to become the new RNC poster boy (until the next guy comes along (there are no next guys left)).

      • Mr Corrections says:

        I mean NH polls, there – Gravis is showing him leading Rubio 17-15 and ARG (Tracking) shows them tied at 16%. I’m not really familiar with either pollster, but most of the other NH polls I can find seem to have started pre-debate so may not be capturing any impact Rubio’s robotic performance had.

        • I of John says:

          It generally takes a while before new info, like a poor debate performance, filters into a poll. I think it will still be a factor here though.

      • I of John says:

        That is just exactly the way I like it. If Kasich does well here but no where else, it keeps this little horse race going a bit longer.

  6. Eleanore Whitaker says:

    Republican men are bigger gamblers than Madoff…and more shrewd. That GOP Clown Car was meant only to raise enough money to fund a GOP 2016 win. But, not a single one of the clowns in that clown car were ever going to be the GOP’s October surprise. Kasich doesn’t actually fit the usual GOP template for a presidential candidate…white, male, middle aged, brand name and connected to big money. That could be the reason for all of the fund raising by the rest of the GOP clowns.

    As for Kasich himself, if he goes up against Sanders, he’ll win. If he goes up against Hillary, he’ll lose.

  7. FT66 says:

    Kasich has a big problem which is bigger than himself of Lehmann’s Bros. There is no way he can avoid it.

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