"Do you know how crazy this election is?" the Ohio governor said, listing what he called "ridiculous" and "hysterical" policies from other candidates. "I've about had it with these people."
Kasich didn't call out any opponent by name, but he made it clear who he was targeting. He said a plan to "abolish" Medicaid and Medicare is "crazy" -- a reference to Ben Carson's suggested alternative
of a health savings account, though Carson has not called for the elimination
of the popular entitlement programs.
"Why don't we get a reality check on what the heck needs to be done in this country? Yeah, we can save Social Security, we shouldn't get rid of it, we can save Medicare and Medicaid," Kasich said.
Kasich has faced criticism himself for what Democrats say is a dismissive tone toward those concerned about entitlement reform. Speaking to about 200 people gathered in a barn here on Tuesday, he didn't back down, saying reform will inevitably make some unhappy.
"We have to pay no attention to the people who we hear whining about don't touch my program, we don't care about that. You know why? Because you come first and they come dead last. People that get in the way of progress come dead last in my career and in my life," Kasich said. "The people we're gonna lift are the people who go to work every day and play by the rules."
Referencing Donald Trump's comments on deporting all undocumented immigrants in the country, Kasich said, "We're going to pick them up, we're going to take them to the border and scream at them to get out of our country? That's just crazy."
Kasich also brought up Trump's comments on Ford, saying he is taking undue credit
for the company moving jobs back to America from Mexico.
"That was like something out of a 'Back to the Future' movie. We made that agreement in 2011 for the simple reason that we knew what we were doing in Ohio. We know how to balance budgets and grow jobs, and do workforce training," Kasich said.
Kasich also took a stronger tone on Jeb Bush than he ever has before -- again, not by name -- calling him out for his fondness of a nickname he gained while governor of Florida.
"One of the candidates said he's known as Veto Corleone. He's so proud of the fact that he vetoes everything, you what vetoes are? Vetoes are a sign you can't get what you want," Kasich said.
Chris Schrimpf, a spokesman for Kasich, acknowledged to CNN that the confrontational tone signaled a new decision in strategy ahead of Wednesday's Republican debate. In a CBS/New York Times poll
released Tuesday, Kasich drew only 4% among Republican primary voters.
"What has happened to our party? What has happened to the conservative movement?" Kasich asked. He added that he is "sick and tired of listening to this nonsense."
"If we turn this country over to somebody with wild ideas who thinks they can scream and bluster or operate their way to success, it's my kids that are going to be at risk, and your kids, and your grandchildren," Kasich told the audience.
"I'm going to have call it like it is as long as I'm in this race," Kasich said. "I'm done with being polite and listening to this nonsense, and it's time we educate the American people about the consequences of very bad choices."