Ohio Governor John Kasich dismissed any concern with his latest standing in New Hampshire Tuesday but also looks to be opening the door to engaging more in Iowa.
“We see a lot of national polls,” Kasich said at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce presidential forum in Washington, D.C. “But we don’t have a national primary.”
In the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll, Kasich’s support decreased from 12 percent to six percent in less than a month in New Hampshire, a state where he has mostly focused his campaign energy.
"We do well here, we're moving on. We do terrible here, it's over," Kasich said in New Hampshire last week according to the Boston Globe, just days before the latest poll was released.
Kasich appeared to walk back his New Hampshire focus Tuesday. “We consider New Hampshire to be important but not at the exclusion of all other places,” Kasich said, adding, “We have the best organization, and organizations win.”
While in Washington, Kasich is using the opportunity to raise money and support, including among his former colleagues in Congress. He attended a fundraiser in Richmond Monday night and is attending fundraisers in Washington Tuesday. Then the former Lehman Brothers employee heads to New York City for more fundraising.
With his poll numbers in New Hampshire dipping, Kasich delivered a nod to the more religious and conservative Iowa voters, warning Americans against a secular society.
“The sense of right and wrong that comes from the great religions is something the west should pay attention to and not continue to drive towards a totally secular society," Kasich said.
That comment was in response to a question about same-sex marriage, which Kasich said he doesn’t support but added he was resigned to its reality. He reiterated that he went to one of his staffer’s same-sex wedding and said “it was good.”
The former head of the House Budget Committee also dismissed GOP front-runner Donald Trump, saying he doesn’t have the scaffolding to support a multifaceted campaign so “the stage collapses.”
“People will pick someone who is a reformer,” he said.
Kasich also took issue with some positions supported by fellow Republican challengers, including the repeal of birthright citizenship. “We’re not going to change the 14th Amendment,” he said.
He also pushed back aggressively on opponents who’ve advocated for mass deportation, saying such a move would cause “sheer panic” and that it’s “not acceptable” in America to be splitting up families.
But he offered a curious explanation of his recent controversial comments that suggested that the way to show appreciation for Hispanics, “you leave a little tip.” Kasich explained he was only appreciating the opportunity to slow down and enjoy a kind moment from his maid, and referenced another maid in New Hampshire, who was Russian, and "doing some unbelievable housekeeping chores.
"I said, 'You are just wonderful,'” he said.
Kasich went on to emphasize that he believes Hispanics “can do anything and everything in this society,” and accused others of taking his words out of context to “drive divisions.”
Kasich’s deadpan demeanor and his reputation of talking bluntly was on full display at the Hispanic Chamber forum Tuesday. On the issue of immigration, which he supports a path to legalization for those already in the country illegally, he said, “sometimes you just have to lead.
“People scream loud. OK, I hear you. Let me think about what you’re saying, and if it makes sense I’ll listen to you,” he said. “It doesn’t mean you don’t listen but don’t let the yelling and screaming determine your decision making.”