Kasich Admits He Doesn’t ‘Approve’ His Campaign Ads

“I approved this message” doesn’t mean the candidate has actually seen it.

ByBrad Mielke & Ben Gittleson
January 25, 2016, 3:29 PM

— MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Over the weekend, John Kasich's presidential campaign released a new web ad called “Sinking Jeb." The ad portrays the former Florida governor as a floundering candidate grasping at straws.

“What happened to Jeb?” a voice asks in the ad. “He had the name, the money, the support…and yet a lukewarm message, weak debates and sagging polls.” It ends with the Ohio governor declaring, “I’m John Kasich, and I approved this message.”

But did he?

Last week, when asked by the Associated Press about the tone in the new ad, Kasich said, “I have not seen any of our ads.” When ABC News followed up on Saturday, Kasich gave a rambling answer.

"Well I don’t know, I mean, I guess, some of them I do,” he said. “I’ve seen many of them, but I don’t see all of them. I don’t see any of the ads the Super PAC does, so I don’t get involved with those.”

Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols confirmed that Kasich has watched “some but not all” of the television and web ads his campaign has released. He was quick to point out that no rules had been broken.

“The governor was answering a question [from the AP] about a web ad, for which there is no requirement for a disclaimer. And even if there is a disclaimer, the federal government does not require the candidate to watch the ad," Nichols said.

Brad Smith, a law professor at Capital University in Ohio and a campaign finance expert, told ABC News that Kasich's online ad was fair game.

"The 'Stand By Your Ad' provision only applies to broadcast ads...nothing in the statute requires personal knowledge of the ad or vouching of accuracy," Smith said.

Some of the campaigns, however, expressed surprise at Kasich's admission.

“For our campaign, the ads that say ‘I approved this message’ means that Marco approved it,” Marco Rubio communications director Alex Conant wrote in an email to ABC News. A spokesperson for Chris Christie also confirmed the New Jersey governor personally watches every ad that receives the disclaimer tag.

Kasich’s campaign has largely refrained from running advertisements criticizing other candidates, instead leaving it up to a pro-Kasich super PAC, New Day for America, to contrast his record with his rivals' past actions.

.@JebBush & his allies at @r2rusa are staring at his tanking poll numbers & slinging mud. Watch our response: https://t.co/Bi4SVqODgi

— New Day For America (@NewDay4America) January 22, 2016

But that all changed this past weekend, when a super PAC backing Bush released a TV ad questioning Kasich’s conservative credentials. Kasich’s official campaign sent out anti-Bush emails and tweets and posted the “Sinking Jeb” ad online.

.@JebBush couldn’t fix healthcare, so he made low-income families pay more. #Kasich4Us #nhpolitics #FITN pic.twitter.com/8enEpQtmMJ

— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) January 22, 2016

Meanwhile, Kasich has continued to portray himself as an optimist looking to transcend political infighting.

“I believe that all of us are capable, one way or another, of changing the world,” Kasich said Saturday in New Hampshire. “That's what we’re here for. To make this world a little better place.”

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