Story highlights

John Kasich says he'll continue his campaign unless he's "smoked" in New Hampshire's primary

Kasich said he's "not a celebrity candidate," though those candidates have dominated the GOP race

CNN —  

Republican John Kasich says his campaign will be in strong shape after the New Hampshire presidential primary “unless everything I know about politics” is wrong.

The Ohio governor told CNN’s Dana Bash in an interview alongside his wife and two daughters that he is optimistic ahead of the Granite State primary on February 9.

“I’m really, really positive,” Kasich said. “Up ‘til now, you know, the celebrity candidates have been the story. I’m not a celebrity candidate.”

He said he would drop out of the race if he falters there.

“If I get smoked here I’m not gonna carry on a fairy tale,” Kasich said.

Pressed on what “smoked” means in terms of how he finishes, Kasich said: “We’ll know on the 10th of February. But that’s not gonna happen.”

He said that “the most important thing is the ground game,” and that “contrary to what some people think, we’ve got activity in many states now, and I’m very optimistic about the future.”

Kasich’s two children, Emma and Reese, were quick to point out they’re no strangers to campaign buses.

“We’ve kind of like grown up with him doing something in campaigning because we were like 10,” Reese told CNN.

Both daughters expressed support for their dad’s presidential bid, with Emma describing her father as “a very loving, caring and a godly person.”

“He always isn’t afraid to talk about God to anyone, because he – that’s what he believes in,” she said. “And he’s taught us that our whole life.

Kasich also discussed how he could overcome GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

“If I throw a ball up in the air, the laws of gravity don’t immediately have it come down. The laws of gravity mean at some point it will come down,” Kasich said. “But look, he’s touched a nerve that I talked about in the very first debate. People feel like they don’t have much say. They think that the rich and the special interests get everything they want. And I acknowledge that. And I tell people that, you know, I’ve been the antidote to that most of my lifetime.”

Kasich sat for the interview alongside his wife, Karen, and their two daughters.

Karen Kasich said her husband’s appeal lies in his experience, compassion and faith.

“He’s a uniter, optimistic, not a divider, and I don’t think the country needs anymore division,” she said. “John is what you see, is what you get. I don’t think there’s a mysterious John Kasich lurking out there somewhere.”

The Ohio governor also opened up about his faith in God and why he doesn’t mention it as often as some other Republicans on the campaign trail.

“I was doing a radio interview and the commentator said, ‘Why don’t you talk about God more? You could get more votes,’ ” Kasich said. “Like what, are you kidding me? It doesn’t work that way.”