CINCINNATI -- Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges wants Ohio Gov. John Kasich to win the White House -- he and the party made that clear Friday morning when they endorsed the governor for the job.
But if Kasich fails to win the New Hampshire primary next month his campaign is likely over, no matter how much support he has from Ohio, Borges acknowledged Friday in Cincinnati.
Borges said he plans to spend 10 days campaigning for Kasich before the New Hampshire primary Feb. 9 rolls around.
“We’ll see how he does. If he does well enough to move on, I think we have a chance,” Borges said during a speech Friday in Cincinnati, just hours after the Republican party endorsed Kasich. “If it doesn’t go well, the governor has even said, he’ll probably come home.”
Kasich held his 50th town hall in New Hampshire last week where he also told the crowd that it’s New Hampshire or bust for his presidential campaign.
“If I get smoked here, I’m going to cry and I’m going to go home,” he said. “I don’t think that’s going to happen, because we have too good of an organization.”
Kasich polled third – tied with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and behind Florida Marco Rubio as well as reality TV star Donald Trump – in the latest New Hampshire poll released this week. A New Hampshire poll released in the last week of December also placed the Ohio governor in third place.
Kasich is having trouble standing out because national media attention has been sucked up by Trump. Establishment GOP voters, who are less likely to support Trump, haven’t decided which candidates they like. Instead, their support remains divided among several hopefuls, according to Paul Beck, a political science professor at Ohio State University.
“Kasich’s problem right now is that it’s a very crowded Republican field," Beck said.
It’s important for the Ohio governor to finish among the top four candidates in New Hampshire if he wants to keep raising money from donors to continue his campaign, Beck said.
Presidential hopefuls are working now to woo primary votes in Iowa and New Hampshire because those states hold their votes earliest.
Kasich has focused his efforts – and cash – on New Hampshire, where’s he’s held dozens of public meetings with voters and running television ads in the state.
“It’s certainly an underdog effort,” said University of Cincinnati political science professor David Niven. “In large part because he hasn’t had a moment where he’s dominated the story line. As much as he’s been plugging away in New Hampshire, it’s hard to break through and be at the center of people’s thoughts when you’re up against this giant.”
Kasich hopes he will finally grab national headlines if he wins New Hampshire, he said in a Fox Business News interview Thursday.
“I come out of New Hampshire as the story, then all of a sudden it all changes,” Kasich said of the presidential race.