Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Rand Paul, both trailing significantly in polls of must-win early primary state New Hampshire, insisted Sunday that pundits shouldn’t count them out — and took jabs at their main opponents in the primary contest.
Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Kasich suggested the GOP had “amnesia” for considering a “one-term United States senator,” a clear knock on Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who’s seen as a frontrunner for the establishment mantle in the race.
“Republicans have run around for seven years saying this: ‘I can’t believe we picked a one-term United States senator who has no experience to be president.’ I just sometimes wonder whether the party’s got amnesia,” he said.
Kasich also knocked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who’s been surging in the polls in New Hampshire, noting Ohio’s economy under his watch has been much stronger than New Jersey’s.
And Paul, who’s been largely absent from the campaign trail in recent weeks, said he’s been home with family and doing pro-bono eye surgeries, but also that he’s been voting — unlike Rubio and another GOP presidential candidate, Ted Cruz.
“I have a job as senator. I’m one of the few candidates that actually shows up to vote. Both Cruz and Rubio are missing the vast majority of votes,” he said. “I feel an obligation to the taxpayer who pays my salary.”
The libertarian favorite also charged that Cruz had followed his lead on foreign policy, noting that the Texas Senator is now questioning the idea of international intervention for regime change, something Paul has long expressed caution about.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery … I think I’ve been the leader on that issue and I continue to,” he said.
Their comments come just over five weeks out from primary day in New Hampshire, which is certain to winnow the field and has pivotal consequences for both Paul and Kasich, both of whom need a top-four finish maintain viability n the race.
Kasich currently polls fourth in the state in the Real Clear Politics average of polls, while Paul comes in a much more distant ninth place. But both insisted they still have a shot at the nomination.
Kasich said that “we believe we are surging,” pointing to an American Research Group poll out late December that showed him slightly ahead of Cruz and Christie and just two points behind Rubio — the only poll so far to show him in third place.
“I won’t be the comeback kid,” he said, “I’ll just be the story coming out of New Hampshire.”
“I believe I’ll win the nomination if I come out of New Hampshire in a strong position,” Kasich insisted.
Paul, meanwhile, pointed to what he said were faulty polls that “don’t capture who’s going to win this vote,” and said his strength among young voters would ultimately vault him ahead.
“If we turn them out, we’re going to shock people like you’ve never seen,” he said.