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Kasich Rounds Out A Busy Year of Campaigning in N.H.

Jason Moon for NHPR
Ohio Governor John Kasich holds a town hall in Nashua. Over the past year, he's held almost fifty such events in New Hampshire.

Republican Presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich made another round of campaign stops in New Hampshire this week. He’s among the presidential candidates who have spent the most time in New Hampshire this primary season and it shows.


It’s been more than five months since Kasich announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. And like other candidates pinning their hopes on a strong finish in New Hampshire, Kasich has been a frequent visitor. After this week he’s hosted nearly 50 town hall events in the state.. And as he told voters in Nashua, he’s learned a few things.

“I think that I kinda have figured out what people are upset about. I think --tell me if I’m wrong, argue with me here today-- I think you think the whole thing is a rip off.”

Kasich hasn’t made any drastic changes to his campaign message since he started campaigning here. He’s still appealing to voters as a conservative swing state governor with a thick resume and a positive charisma. But it’s a message that has met a variety of obstacles. Many Republican primary voters don’t seem interested in political experience this year. And for those who are, Kasich has plenty of competition

Lately, Kasich has been emphasizing something a little less tangible than a list of economic statistics: an ability to forge consensus.

“That’s the hardest thing. But, there’s a certain magic too. I can’t describe it to you...there’s just some people who have a knack for getting people to rise to a higher level.”

Kasich’s persistent campaigning in New Hampshire has yielded some success. An average of current polls put him at fourth place in the Republican primary – not bad in a field topping out at a dozen candidates.

But Kasich is the first to admit there’s still a long way to go. And voters like Ken Sherr of Pelham demonstrate the hurdles he’s yet to clear. Sherr, who braved a snowstorm to see Kasich in Nashua this week, likes the Ohio governor.

“His resume and his track record match up nicely with the kinds of problems that we need to have solved.”

But he likes other candidates, too.

“I still like Rubio a lot too and Cruz appeals to me...I actually really like Carson a lot, too.”

For Lee Brooks of Nashua, it’s a similar story.

“His background and experience speaks for itself.”

But that appreciation for Kasich’s political experience doesn’t keep him from being interested in candidates who have never held office.

“Donald Trump has some fantastic ideas.”

Kasich acknowledges the divided mind of this primary’s Republican electorate. At times he seems exasperated by it. At one point he called this a quote “weird time in American politics.”

But Kasich jokes that it’s up to New Hampshire to determine his political future on Feb. 9 – Primary Day.

“Some guy I talked to, I was raising money from, he living in Ohio and he said ‘isn’t New Hampshire beautiful?’ I said ‘I’ll let you know on February 10th.”

Jason Moon is a senior reporter and producer on the Document team. He has created longform narrative podcast series on topics ranging from unsolved murders, to presidential elections, to secret lists of police officers.

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