One of Ohio Gov. John Kasich's top talking points after his second-place finish in the New Hampshire Republican primary Tuesday night has to do with sugary confections found in s'mores. Specifically, that he will not be one.
"I'm not some kind of a pin cushion or a marshmallow," Kasich said on CBS's "This Morning" on Wednesday, regarding whether he'd hit back if someone attacked him politically. "But I think people are tired of the negativity."
On NBC's "Today" show, he had a similar message.
"Somebody wants to mess with me, they're messing with the wrong guy," Kasich said. "I'm not gonna sit there and be a marshmallow and have somebody pound me. We're not just gonna sit back and take a pounding from anybody, but at the same time we're going to tell people what we're for, and I think people really, really like it."
It turns out, Kasich has been fond of the word "marshmallow" for a while.
At a New Hampshire town hall in July, via Cleveland.com:
"When you're a leader, you can't be a marshmallow," Kasich said as he wrapped up his visit. "But we also want to have leaders with good hearts."
On CNN in August, via The Columbus Dispatch:
"People are noting that maybe I’m the happiest candidate out here in the field," he said. "But I gotta tell you, I'm not a marshmallow."
At a New Hampshire town hall on Feb. 3, via The Boston Globe:
He also said that he favors a milder tone than the brashness of some of his competitors, but he never shies from a challenge. “I’m going to fight for what I believe in,” he said. “I am not a marshmallow. I am a leader with strong opinions. But you just can’t run over people.”
He has a point -- Kasich proved Tuesday his message of compassionate conservatism can hold its own in New Hampshire, despite the victory for extreme rhetoric with Donald Trump's first-place finish.
But he also has to prove his approach can win, and to win, he might have to strike back at attacks and show he can't get squished.
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