When presidential candidates gather in Iowa next week to eagerly await the results of the state's caucuses -- the first nominating contest in the race for the White House -- one contender on the Republican side will be missing: John Kasich.
The Ohio governor will spend Monday, the day of the Iowa caucuses, over 1,000 miles away in New Hampshire. Instead of last-minute campaigning in Des Moines or Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he plans to hold a town hall in Loudon, New Hampshire, just outside the capital of the state on which he has pinned his entire campaign.
In lieu of physically meeting voters in Iowa early this week, as many of his opponents have been doing, Kasich held his fourth tele-town hall for Iowans on Monday evening, telling them he wished he had been able to come in person. He plans to spend three days in the state starting Wednesday, in conjunction with Thursday’s GOP debate in Des Moines, before returning to New Hampshire on Saturday.
“Iowa's so big, and there's only so many resources and so many hours in the day,” Kasich said in an interview on Fox News earlier this month. "It's a lot easier when you have 1.2 million [people in New Hampshire]. I can stand in Manchester, throw a stone and hit most of New Hampshire."
Kasich has said repeatedly that he hopes to become “a story” after the Granite State’s Feb. 9 Republican primary, with a last-minute surge that pushes him to the top tier of finishers after he has struggled for months to garner support. His approach is often perceived as more moderate, which polls well in New Hampshire compared to the popularity of religious conservatism in Iowa.
The governor and former congressman has relentlessly held town halls in New Hampshire, with plans to put on his 80th today and a goal of reaching 100 before residents hit the polls -- a feat that propelled U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, to victory in the state in 2000 and 2008. His campaign and a super PAC supporting his bid have spread staff and resources across the state, and The Boston Globe, just over the southern border, endorsed him Monday. The Concord Monitor followed suit today.
But his devotion to New Hampshire comes at the expense of time spent in Iowa, where his visits have been few and far between and he has seen far less success in the polls.