John Kasich is officially going all-in on New Hampshire.
Never really a factor in Iowa, the Ohio governor has been buoyed in recent days by growing support in new polls and a string of newspaper endorsements. So he plans to quickly travel this week to Iowa for Thursday's GOP presidential debate, but head right back to New Hampshire on Friday. He won't leave the state until after the Feb. 9 primary, aides said.
The decision comes as Kasich surged into third place in a poll released Monday by Boston Herald and Franklin Pierce University. He's at 12 percent support, behind front-runner Donald Trump (33 percent) and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who's just ahead of Kasich with 14 percent. Kasich's four main competitors for "mainstream" Republican support fall in right behind him: former Florida governor Jeb Bush gets 9 percent, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio 8 percent and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie 7 percent.
Later Monday, the Boston Globe endorsed Kasich, writing that his success in Ohio "and his record as a moderate conservative who is willing to compromise in pursuit of results, suggests he is the Republican hopeful most likely to be successful on the national stage."
That endorsement follows several others by smaller New Hampshire publications.
On Tuesday, Kasich is scheduled to make three campaign stops in New Boston, Rindge and Amherst, N.H., while Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine appears on his behalf in Nashua, according to the campaign. When he returns on Saturday, he is slated to hold town hall-style events in Merrimack and Keene, aides said.
In Iowa, Kasich, Bush and Christie don't account for 10 percent of support in the latest surveys. Their three-way fight to emerges as the leading establishment favorite has grown increasingly petty and personal in recent days, with either their campaigns or the super PACs backing their bids airing attack ads against the others. Unlike Kasich, Bush and Christie are eager to perform well in Iowa and catch some tailwind heading into New Hampshire. For the Bush team, the goal is to top Christie in Iowa and New Hampshire -- and vice-versa for Christie.
Bush is scheduled to travel Tuesday to a tiny corner of Nevada, wagering that time spent in the Silver State instead of the Hawkeye State could pay off long-term.
He began the week raising money in Florida on Sunday and Houston on Monday. Bush will make a mid-afternoon Tuesday appearance in Elko, Nev., a town of roughly 20,000 where just a few thousands historically participate in the Nevada caucus. But there's a big pocket of GOP voters in the town that the Bush team has been working hard for months.
Nevada holds its caucus on Feb. 23, three days after the South Carolina primary, and both contests remain a big focus of the Bush team. In Nevada, Bush's team is led by Ryan Erwin, who helped Mitt Romney win the caucus in 2012. The campaign has been leading caucus training sessions for volunteers and staffers; campaign manager Danny Diaz attended a session back in December.
From Nevada, Bush flies to Iowa, where he's currently scheduled to remain through caucus night. He'll appear in downtown Des Moines on Wednesday before hunkering down to prepare for the Thursday debate. On Friday he launches a two-day tour that will take him from the state capital east toward Dubuque.
Dubuque, a college town on the Mississippi River, is where Christie kicks off his final Iowa stand on Wednesday. He is slated to spend Tuesday attending to official duties in Trenton, N.J., but then travel to Iowa and remain there until Caucus Night.
By the time Bush and Christie get to New Hampshire, Kasich will already be there. He's expected to hold campaign events all weekend long into early next week and beyond.