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Tales From the Trail: In N.H., Kasich can't stop knocking the Patriots

Want to know what the NBC News Embeds saw? Follow their daily journey to the inside of the 2016 presidential campaign here.
Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Governor John Kasich speaks at the New Hampshire GOP's FITN Presidential town hall in Nashua, N.H. Jan. 23, 2016. (Photo by Mary Schwalm/Reuters)
Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Governor John Kasich speaks at the New Hampshire GOP's FITN Presidential town hall in Nashua, N.H. Jan. 23, 2016.

Want to know what the NBC News Embeds saw? Follow their daily journey to the inside of the 2016 presidential campaign here:

In New Hampshire, John Kasich Can't Stop Knocking the Patriots

NEW BOSTON, N.H. -- Standing next to a churning fireplace in this quaint New England town on Tuesday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich took a moment during his morning town hall to marvel at his recent newspaper endorsements and make another joke at the expense of the region's beloved New England Patriots.

"I can't believe, last night I found out that I got the endorsement of the Boston Globe. That's like, I'm like in complete shock," Kasich beamed. "Honestly, little ol' me, I mean, The Boston Globe?" He continued, adding in the endorsement of the Concord Monitor that came this morning.

"Getting the Concord Monitor and getting the Boston Globe is like hitting a home run with the bases loaded. Or it would be like getting a two point conversion," he teased, a nod to the team's devastating loss to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game on Sunday.

Kasich was quick to add, "OK, you know, I don't pander!"

One day before, during his town hall at The Stone Church in Newmarket, N.H., Kasich needled the Patriots star quarterback. In response to a question on high pay for executives, Kasich told the crowd, "we can't develop a bitterness to somebody that does well," joking, "what you ought to be squawking about is how much money is Brady is making?"

The crowd sent out a few boos, and Kasich smiled and reminded them "I'm not patronizing you," but actually had ended up rooting for the Patriots in the Sunday game against the Broncos.

-- Kailani Koenig covering the New Hampshire primary

A summer vacation to Iowa

Meet the Beauchamp family, the traveling trio of father, son and daughter who have become fixtures of my Iowa campaign scene.

Over the last six months, we've attended nearly two dozen of the same Republican campaign events across the state -- from the state fair appearances in August to this last weekend at a Cruz rally featuring Glenn Beck in Waterloo.

John and his son, Darrell, a junior in high school, and daughter, Anna, a seventh grader, live in Wales, Wisconsin -- a town just west of Milwaukee.

But during Darrell and Anna's summer breaks, they'd cross the Hawkeye State with their dad to see the candidates up close. And since school started back up, they've made frequent weekend trips across the Wisconsin-Iowa border.

They're a trio that makes a reporter appreciate the nature and uniqueness of these events. It's easy to get caught up in the hurriedness of the candidate coverage, jumping from one event to the next, making sure audio is working and the live signal is making it out of the building.

But when I see the Beauchamps, the realness of the campaign comes back each time. There's a reason why nearly 200 people clamor into the basement of Mabe's Pizza in Decorah on a snowy night for a campaign event.

The Beachamps appreciate the uniqueness of this Iowa experience, and though John can't caucus in Iowa and the kids aren't old enough to even vote, they have insight into these candidates that not many people have.

And because I can't ignore it (I give them a hard time about it), their top picks for the nomination haven't fared too well.

Being from Wisconsin, they started with Scott Walker. And then they backed Bobby Jindal.

Now? Ted Cruz can count on them as supporters. They met the senator, Rep. Steve King and Cruz's father, Rafael, Cruz, all this weekend.

And, of course, we met again too.

-- Vaughn Hillyard covering the Iowa caucuses

Rubio's redemption

Marco Rubio's got aim.

At least he does in a new video from IJ Review that shows him drilling footballs at an array of media personalities, lawmakers and even a presidential opponent — neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

Some of Rubio's targets, like CNN commentator S.E. Cupp and Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, who has endorsed Rubio, catch the ball. Cupp tosses it to the side, while Inhofe throws back a snowball.

South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, another Rubio endorser, catches a ball while speaking on a mock news broadcast about a "football facial injury investigation," also catches the ball, and keeps on talking. Even Carson catches the ball when it's thrown to him somewhere snowy on the campaign trail.

Others, like Daily Caller founder Tucker Carlson and anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist, get pummeled, unexpectedly, by the ball. Rubio even knocks a bottle of water off a chair with the ball, a reference to his infamous water-chug during his 2013 State of the Union response.

But the one pass that matters was to Brody Dill, the young Iowan who Rubio accidentally knocked in the head with a wayward pass while campaigning in Iowa last August. That pass, recreated in an empty gymnasium for the IJ Review video, he completes.

Rubio's so happy about that one, in fact, he breaks into a victory dance.

-- Alex Jaffe covering the Rubio campaign

Trump team hopes to making caucusing easy

DES MOINES, Iowa — From the start, Donald Trump's Iowa team has sought to make caucusing easy.

Before almost every rally in the Hawkeye State, Iowa co-chair Tana Goertz instructs the crowd how to caucus, where to look for the right information, what they need to bring with them, and, most importantly, why they have to get out there for Donald J. Trump.

Goertz, a force of energy with a carefully honed pro-Trump elevator pitch, makes caucusing sound exciting and, most of all, easy. Goertz's pre-rally pitch is a direct counter to the narrative that first-time caucus goers will be turned off by complex caucus processes and potentially bad weather. And as the star of a new web video, she's telling voters what to expect come caucus night and just how easy the whole thing can be.

These kinds of no-frills appeals to voters seem to be paying off. Jordan Beeding, a 25-year old teacher who has never caucused before, even brought up the Trump team's strong digital presence and the ability to take the trepidation out of caucusing for first-timers.

A supporter herself, Beeding told NBC News before Trump's Muscatine rally over the weekend, "I have never caucused before but I follow him on Facebook and on Twitter so I saw his videos of how to caucus and it seems pretty straightforward and easy so it's something I'm interested in."

And she's sure she's not the only one. "I think it'll get probably a lot more people to caucus," she said. "I wouldn't have known even what it was about if it wasn't for the video and information that's out there on the Internet."

Beeding says she's even used the new caucus finder featured on Trump's website. The campaign blasted emails and handed out flyers before his Muscatine rally to make sure people had all the information they needed to help Trump win Iowa next week.

In an unprecedented race, it's not exactly surprising that the GOP frontrunner is relying on voters who have never caucused to put him over the top in Iowa. Trump's strategy to win in Iowa relies as much on these voters as it does the "likely primary voters" that have been polled so far and have him neck-and-neck with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Of course, with previously unforeseen events, it's hard to predict the degree of certainty to which these first-time caucus goers will actually turn out. But for those with the will, Iowa Team Trump is giving them as clear a way as possible to the secret ballot box.

-- Ali Vitali covering the Trump campaign