A conservative non-profit is putting John Kasich in its crosshairs, using a million-dollar ad buy to denounce the Republican presidential candidate as an “Obama Republican” because of his continued support for Common Core.
“Common Core, Obama’s Medicaid expansion, tax increases,” the ad says. “Barack Obama? No, John Kasich. Kasich still supports Common Core.”
Kasich, the ad concludes, is “not a conservative, not even a moderate, [but] an Obama Republican.”
Kasich may seem like an odd target for a major ad campaign, as he remains near the tail end of the GOP field. But Kasich has surged in the New Hampshire primary race, with two recent polls putting him in second place behind only Donald Trump. A strong finish there (or perhaps even a win, if Trump abruptly collapses) could immediately make him a leading candidate. Now, the American Future Fund (AFF), a socially conservative group with links to the Huckabee campaign, is singling out Kasich with the ad in an effort to arrest his rise. The group told The New York Times it plans to spend $1 million attacking Kasich in New Hampshire.
Since it is a non-profit and not a Super PAC, the group’s donors are not public, and it isn’t explicitly tied to a single GOP candidate. So while the target is clear, the beneficiary is not. According to the Associated Press, some have pointed the finger at Jeb Bush’s campaign, but the pro-Bush Super PAC Right to Rise has explicitly denied any involvement (and Bush himself supports Common Core as well).
Others suggests backers of Marco Rubio are trying to boost his shaky position in New Hampshire. Alternatively, AFF founder Nick Ryan has extensive connections to Mike Huckabee, but Huckabee has made no effort to compete in New Hampshire so trying to undermine Kasich there seems like it would be a tremendous waste of time.
Whoever is behind it, the ad marks one of the few times that K-12 education has been used as a leading argument on the 2016 campaign trail, though such arguments have increased in frequency of late. In the last Republican debate, Marco Rubio criticized Chris Christie for his past support of Common Core, and a recent advertisement attacked Christie for the same thing.
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