Ohio Gov. John Kasich isn't much of a factor in the Iowa presidential caucus race, but the Republican has jumped into a fight for a top spot in the New Hampshire primary.
Kasich is tied for third in New Hampshire with Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) in a NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released Thursday morning. They're trailed by former Florida governor Jeb Bush at 8 percent and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 7 percent. Those four rivals comprise the universe of "mainstream" Republican candidates competing with front-runners Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex).
Kasich's apparent surge in New Hampshire comes as he ranks in the low single digits in Iowa, where he'll remain through Friday. Over the weekend, he is scheduled to return to the Granite State, where he will stay through the Feb. 9 primary. His campaign is also airing a new ad across the state starting Thursday:
The ad touts Kasich's work on the federal budget as a House lawmaker and in revamping the Ohio budget. It also says that he helped draw jobs back to his state from overseas.
The message continues the "America, never give up" theme that began in Kasich's first campaign ad, a mostly biographical message that resembled a campaign for beer or pickup trucks or jeans and stood out amid a glut of attack ads flooding the New England airwaves.
"Our positive message focused on jobs, budget and the economy is working and we are sticking with it," Kasich campaign spokesman Chris Schrimpf said about the new ad. "As millions are now being spent against us because we are rising, our campaign is remaining positive and focused with our paid media."
Schrimpf declined to say how much the campaign is spending on the ad, but said it's part of a "significant and statewide" buy.
Kasich is indeed the focus of a new wave of attack ads. Right to Rise USA, a super PAC supporting Bush's bid, is airing an ad that calls out the governor for expanding Medicaid in Ohio. An ad by American Future Fund, a conservative group, labels Kasich "an Obama Republican" because he expanded Medicaid and has supported education reforms commonly known as Common Core.
Kasich's campaign calls the ads misleading and notes that he opposed the Affordable Care Act.