John Kasich says he sees room for 2016 bid due to Bush weakness

Washington CNN  — 

John Kasich said he was just being honest – not taking a shot at Jeb Bush – when he told a New Hampshire crowd on Thursday that he only got serious about running for president only after seeing the former Florida governor was vulnerable.

“Frankly, I thought that Jeb was going to just suck all the air out of the room and it just hasn’t happened,” the Ohio Republican governor said.

He quickly added: “No hit on Jeb – not hit on you, Jeb!”

Kasich said he didn’t think he’d be in New Hampshire during the 2016 presidential cycle, but is now more positive about his chances of winning the GOP nomination.

RELATED: Jeb Bush to announce candidacy June 15

“I started going around and people started responding,” he said. “It’s got to be real, I have to win, and we have a disciplined process of determining whether we have resources and organization to do it.”

According to Kasich, former Sen. John Sununu, who has signed on to help his team, thinks the race is wide open.

“They’ve never seen it like this before,” he said of the wide-open race. “If it was (just) my opinion it’d be one thing, but when Sununu has an opinion like that … the senator knows what hes talking about.”

Kasich also said taking shots at Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic candidate, will not be the way to win this election for Republicans. Instead, he said, campaigns should focus on how the country is slipping.

Kasich’s comments come the day the Bush campaign revealed that the former Florida governor will announce his entrance into the presidential race on June 15.