Ohio Governor John Kasich claimed a practical victory Tuesday night, placing second in the New Hampshire Republican primary behind Donald Trump. Kasich’s late rise in the last few days, moving him out of the governors mini-pack he cohabited with Jeb Bush and Chris Christie and modestly but clearly past Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, vindicated his New Hampshire-centric strategy.
Kasich continued his campaign theme of a self-described positive focus with a renewed denunciation of negative advertising, declaring that “tonight the light overcame the darkness of negative campaigning.” In an atypical statement from a candidate celebrating a favorable primary election outcome Kasich pledged not to accelerate and work even harder, but to slow down. Speaking of deeply personal encounters with people sharing their struggles at his town halls Kasich said “from this day forward I’m going to go slower and spend my time listening and healing and helping and bringing people together to fix our great country.”
Was Tuesday night his high point or just the beginning? Kasich faces a challenging road ahead as his New Hampshire-centric strategy means that he has limited organization and support in the upcoming primary states, with limited time and money to capitalize on his New Hampshire success. A winnowing field and an expected spike in media attention will provide opportunity, but no guarantee of success.
Monday was the last day of the notion-bending year long campaign leading to the New Hampshire presidential primary. Republican candidates have for months decried the condition of America, denouncing Barack Obama for what they see as destruction wreaked on the U.S. that has pushed the country to the edge of a precipice. With New Hampshire voting those dire descriptions will end, at least for the Granite State, as the campaign rolls on to South Carolin, Nevada and beyond.
Who’s rising, who’s falling and who will exceed expectations? Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Chris Christie all had good days in the last moments of the New Hampshire primary, but they face a dual challenge of trying to shove past the other two governors and simultaneously trying to catch up to Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Here are a few impressions from the candidates’ closing appearances.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie continued his quest for the presidency Sunday, campaigning in New Hampshire on the second to last day before the New Hampshire primary. Christie began with a town hall in the Seacoast town of Hampton, speaking to about 300 people.
Christie’s crowds have grown this week but so have those of his closest rivals Jeb Bush and John Kasich. His Hampton audience appeared supportive, cheering Christie on and fully engaged as Christie prowled the small open plain at the center of a tight circle of chairs working both those fortunate enough to be seated and the 100 or so people standing in an outer circle. Christie expanded on his debate performance, dismissing Marco Rubio as an echo of Barack Obama; an unaccomplished first-term senator unprepared to be president. He gave an eviscerating imitation of Donald Trump, capturing a core Trump weakness of offering nothing beyond emotional appeal.
I like Donald. But he’s not qualified to be president. That’s the essence of Chris Christie’s cutting evaluation of Donald Trump, delivered effectively at a Hampton, New Hampshire town hall today.
Christie was humorously dismissive of Trump as unqualified, mockingly imitating Trump’s non-answers to substantial questions. While professing that he likes Trump personally and expressing empathy with the anger and frustration felt by Trump and his supporters, Christie pointed to Trump’s failure to offer basic thinking on his Mexican border wall and on dealing with the longterm financial challenges of Social Security as evidence of Trump’s utter unpreparedness for the presidency.
Here’s Christie’s full response and discussion:
Excerpts – Here are brief excerpts of Christie impersonating Trump:
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush hosted a town hall today with an audience of about 400 people. Filling a middle school cafeteria in Bedford, New Hampshire, the audience appeared quite supportive of Bush.
Town halls and rallies have been increasing in size as the Tuesday New Hampshire primary approaches, with Bush seeing his audiences grow. His poll numbers have also improved, although it’s more in the nature of a modest rising rather than a surge. He’s battling with two current governors, Ohio’s John Kasich and New Jersey’s Chris Christie for dominance of what is essentially a second tier behind Trump, Cruz and Rubio. With two days to go Bush faces a critical moment Tuesday, with a weak or modest showing likely to end his campaign.
Engaged in a tussle with New Jersey Governor Chris Chris Christie and former Florida governor Jeb Bush for a “top tier” finish in the New Hampshire primary, Ohio Governor John Kasich emphasized his ability to lead and work cooperatively and without rancor as a distinguishing feature worthy of voters attention. Held in Bedford, Kasich’s 100th New Hampshire town hall drew an audience of about 300 people. That’s a solid crowd for Kasich, and higher than the many previous Kasich town halls I’ve attended, but less than the crowds drawn by many of his rivals.
During the Q&A portion a man rose to praise Kasich’s attributes, which he described as including character, integrity and competence. This prompted a lengthy rumination by Kasich on his candidacy, his prospects and his reasons for running.
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz landed in New Hampshire Tuesday fresh from his victory in the Iowa caucuses. Cruz spoke to a modest sized audience of about 150 people at a church in Windham, New Hampshire, but was also joined by nearly as many members of the press.
Although undoubtedly a strong candidate in New Hampshire, Cruz faces a different landscape than that of Iowa. With a less significant portion of the electorate identifying as “evangelical”, there’s a diminished presence of a meaningful element of Cruz’s base. His fierce rhetoric on guns, prayer and Barack Obama finds a receptive audience, however, and he’s drawn substantial audiences in his recent New Hampshire appearances. At this town hall the audience was supportive yet not overly vocal or demonstrative.
“God bless the great state of New Hampshire” began Cruz, declaring that the election will not be “decided by the media, lobbyists or the
“Washington Cartel”, a favored Cruz enemy. It fits neatly into Cruz’s painting this election as 1979 redux, with Cruz as the new Ronald Reagan. In Cruz’s telling, the last time “we broke the Washington Cartel” was in Reagan’s 1980 victory.
Donald over Ted – that’s what The Mirror reports on Jimmy Carter’s preference between the two leading Republican presidential candidates. It’s a nice twist to the race as Ted Cruz regularly describes today in 1979 terms, attacking Jimmy Carter, decrying perceived American weakness at the hands of Iran and Russia and casting himself in the role of Ronald Reagan.
Here’s Cruz, speaking in Windham, New Hampshire on Tuesday:
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz had some critical comments for Donald Trump Tuesday. Speaking at his first New Hampshire appearance following his Iowa caucuses victory, Cruz criticized Trump for supporting “amnesty” during the 2013 immigration reform debate and for a more general mean-spiritedness.
In his first of two Trump critiques Cruz was harshly criticizing fellow senator Marco Rubio on the 2013 failed immigration bill when he pivoted to criticizing Trump for supporting “amnesty” and largely remaining silent then. Cruz’s second critique came in response to a question concerning Trump’s mocking of a New York Times reporter’s physical disability while attacking his writing.
Ted Cruz responded to a single press question as he departed from a town hall in Windham, New Hampshire this afternoon. Cruz gave a non-responsive answer when asked how voters in New Hampshire differ from voters in Iowa.
Chris Christie made very brief comments Monday night on the Iowa caucuses results. Expecting to fare poorly in Iowa, Christie held a town hall in New Hampshire Monday night as the caucuses were being conducted. As he greeted attendees afterwards Christie was briefly asked by reporters about his own performance and about Ted Cruz’s victory.
“Man up.” That was Jeb Bush’s response Monday night to complaints that ads attacking his rivals and produced by a super PAC supporting him are “slime.” Earlier Monday fellow candidate John Kasich had condemned an ad from a super PAC supporting Kasich and called on Bush and Chris Christie to “take their negative nonsense off television.” While giving nominal support to condemning “slime” Bush said that he had not seen any ads constituting “slime” and urged his fellow candidates to “toughen up and stop complaining.” Saying “this is not bean bag here,” Bush appeared completely comfortable with such attacks.
As he spoke with a supporter after the town hall Bush gave a brief mocking response, saying in a baby voice “it’s hurting my feelings.”
Here’s Bush’s response during the town hall:
Here’s Bush’s later response:
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