Kasich downplays Dem joke, says he's in 'lane of my own'

Story highlights

  • John Kasich had joked maybe he should be running as a Democrat
  • He downplayed that on Sunday on CNN, saying instead he's in "a lane of my own"

Washington (CNN)John Kasich argued Sunday that he's not running in the "establishment lane" in New Hampshire, while downplaying a joke he made that he would be better off running in the Democratic primary.

"I'm not an establishment guy, I'm sort of in a lane of my own," Kasich told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union."
Kasich is running close with Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush in New Hampshire for support among moderate and more traditional Republican voters. And all four men are running well behind Donald Trump, who appears poised for his first win of the race.
    Kasich played up his conservative bona fides Sunday, after joking that he might have been better off running as a Democrat.
    "When you balance as many budgets as I have, have cut as much taxes, been for as much school choice, reformed welfare, ended the entitlements -- go through all this, grow government at a very small amount. I don't understand it other than maybe sometimes I say we need to work together with the Democrats," Kasich said of Republicans who have questioned his standing on the right.
    He explained that he feels he is best positioned to reassemble the coalition of voting blocs that helped lift Ronald Reagan to the White House.
    "The only reason I said what I said is I've had so many Democrats walk up to me and say, 'Hey, we like you, we hope you're going to be the Republican. We're not going to vote for you in the fall. But, you know, we think you make a lot of sense,'" Kasich said. "Look, I'm in a Republican primary. But whoever's going to like me, I consider that to be a good thing. It shows my ability perhaps to reassemble that Reagan coalition -- those blue collar Democrats. That's what my father was, so I think I might send a signal out that it's safe if you're a Democrat and you're a conservative to look at a Republican."