-- Republican presidential candidate John Kasich said today he thinks the popularity of fellow GOP candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson is a temporary phenomenon and dismissed the recent rise of two other competitors, Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, saying voters should choose someone with executive experience.
"There is no substitute for executive experience. I mean there is no substitute for having to answer to a bottom line, to go through crisis," Kasich, who served for 18 years in Congress and is in his second term as Ohio's governor, told ABC News' Jonathan Karl in New Hampshire today. Trump, a businessman, and Carson, a former neurosurgeon, have never held elected office, though Trump has helmed a real estate empire and Carson founded a nonprofit that provides scholarships.
"We’ve had many crises in Ohio, from weather to shootings to ... unrest in our cities, Ebola health scare, water shortage," Kasich said as his campaign bus rumbled through the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, area, not far from the state's Atlantic coast.
"You learn over time how to deal with these things when they happen," Kasich added. "We just had a guy who is learning on the job. I don’t think that worked so well."
Kasich was in the Granite State today for the start of a two-day swing through the state, which will be the first to hold a presidential primary next year. The visit marks the second time he has toured in a campaign bus during this election, after he criss-crossed New Hampshire in mid-October in a motor coach.
The two buses he's employed have had celebrity pasts. The country band Lady Antebellum had been the last group to use the first bus before Kasich's team hopped on board, and Kasich said his bus this week had most recently been used by the singer Ricky Martin.
The governor is pinning his hopes on performing well in New Hampshire's primary in February, which he has called key to providing him enough momentum to surge to the top of the large pack of GOP presidential candidates.
"I have to do well here," he told ABC News just before attending a Rotary Club luncheon in Portsmouth today. "If I get obliterated here, that’s a problem."
He said he did not think he had to win in the state -- just that he had to exceed the media's expectations. "We don’t expect really to rise in the national polls until after New Hampshire," Kasich said.
He has generally performed better in polls in New Hampshire than in those taken nationally, though he still typically trails far behind front-runners like Trump and Carson.