Kasich on Sunday had urged his opponents to take down negative ads. The posting of the Bush video not only shows that Kasich’s plea was ignored, but that he is now increasingly viewed as a threat.
Kasich has gained in some polls, potentially at Bush’s expense. A strong showing by Kasich here could give him momentum and hurt Bush’s chances in South Carolina, which holds its primary on Feb. 20.
Kasich strategist John Weaver, who worked in the 2000 presidential primary campaign for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), said the strategy reminded him of the way George W. Bush went after the Arizona senator as they headed to the South Carolina primary.
“I told the governor, having been through this with the Bushes before, once we land in Charleston, presuming Bush survives this, it will be hand-to-hand combat,” Weaver said in an interview after Kasich spoke here.
In the video, news reports show Kasich being asked about his decision to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid, as allowed under President Obama’s health-care plan. The video cuts off before Kasich explains his decision, instead segueing to Bush talking about it. “I think that was wrong,” Bush says of expanding Medicaid.
Kasich has said it made sense to accept the federal funds — even as he opposed “Obamacare” — because it helped poor people in his state receive health-care benefits.
Kasich, as has been his style, has declined to attack his opponents. At a number of town hall meetings during the last week, Kasich’s vow to remain positive has been one of his biggest applause lines. Standing before a giant placard that said, “America Never Gives Up,” Kasich used his last full day of campaigning to urge voters to give him a chance to move on in the primaries.
“We’ll get it done,” Kasich told voters, speaking here at his 103rd town hall meeting. “I have no doubt we’re going to get it done, but we have to get through New Hampshire. … I want to take this to the whole country. So if I don’t do it, it’s your fault.”