Kasich strikes optimistic tone in New Hampshire

Story highlights

  • Kasich says he's running even with GOP front-runner Donald Trump among independent voters in New Hampshire
  • "In politics, anything can happen. It usually does, but we feel very good about where we are," he told CNN's Michael Smerconish

Washington (CNN)Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he's optimistic about his chances in New Hampshire after viewing polls of independent voters.

"Among independent voters -- and there's a lot of independent voters that vote up here, I think it's as much as 40% of the turnout -- I'm actually at this point running even with Donald Trump, which is particularly interesting," he told CNN's Michael Smerconish on Saturday.
Kasich, who did not cite the poll he was referencing, believes his ground game will ultimately lead to success in New Hampshire.
    "In a crowded field, when you have people knocking on doors, when you have people making phone calls, when we touch the voter, that's really significant. And I always thought it would pay off," he said. "In politics, anything can happen. It usually does, but we feel very good about where we are."
    He added: "We'll see. It's a long way to go, but I'm having an absolute ball. While our (nation's) problems are serious, they're solvable."
    Kasich, however, is tied for fourth place with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at 6% in a CNN/WMUR poll released this week of Republican primary voters. Donald Trump, who tops the GOP primary fight nationwide, easily leads in the Granite State at 34%, more than double that of his nearest competitor, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has 14% support.
    But the poll's results suggest there's volatility: Just 31% of the Republicans surveyed say they've made up their minds about who they'll support.
    Later Saturday, Kasich's campaign released an ad attacking former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, one of Kasich's main opponents who is also fighting to be the establishment favorite in New Hampshire.
    The ad said Bush's "lukewarm message, weak debates and sagging polls have left Jeb attacking John Kasich in desperation."
    New Hampshire holds its primary, the first in the nation, on February 9.