Ohio Gov. John Kasich is airing his first television advertisement in New Hampshire this week, hoping to break through in the chaotic Republican presidential race with a debut spot that highlights his rough upbringing, personal resilience and governing achievements.
The intended takeaway from the 30-second ad, which uses arresting imagery and is heavy on biography: "John Kasich never gives up."
The ad, titled "America: Never Give Up," is the beginning of a statewide advertising blitz that the Kasich campaign has budgeted to extend until the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9. It will air starting Tuesday on broadcast and cable channels throughout the Granite State and surrounding areas, including in the expensive Boston media market, according to John Weaver, Kasich's top strategist. He would not disclose the size of the ad buy but described it as substantial.
The spot opens with moody shots of McKees Rocks, Pa., where Kasich grew up, and black-and-white family photographs. In a gravelly voice, a male narrator says: "He lived a hard-scrabble life in a rusty steel town. John Kasich never gives up. When he lost his parents to a drunk driver, he had the faith to carry on."
The ad then turns to Kasich's record in government. "Some said he couldn't balance the federal budget. Kasich stunned Washington," the narrator says. "They said he couldn't save Ohio from an $8 billion shortfall. Kasich did. Some say our best days are behind us. America, never give up. John Kasich."
As he entered the race in the summer, New Day for America, a pro-Kasich super PAC, spent several million dollars airing ads trying to introduce Kasich to New Hampshire voters. The ads were well received and credited with propelling him into contention in the state. But his campaign believes that about 40 percent of likely primary voters still do not know much about the Ohio governor, so it is beginning the January ad campaign by introducing him anew.
In an interview on Sunday, Weaver said he hopes the debut ad, which he said was produced in-house by the campaign, conveys that Kasich "has an ability to relate to the everyman in society, and that’s because of where he came from and what he’s overcome in his life. He has a spirit in him, just as America has in its past, of never giving up.”
Weaver pointed out that the Kasich ad is positive in nature, unlike some other spots on the New Hampshire airwaves. Right to Rise, the super PAC supporting rival Jeb Bush, released an ad last week contrasting Bush's record with those of Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
“I guess the Bush super PAC is trying to be as creative as they can to spend every dime before Jeb drops out," Weaver said. "They’re certainly on track to do just that."
Weaver argued that the ad buy should be seen as evidence that Kasich's campaign is well funded and healthy. He invited a comparison with Bush's campaign, which announced last week that it was canceling its January ad buys in Iowa and South Carolina, though it will continue advertising in New Hampshire.