Thursday, December 11, 2014

In Arizona, the first hints of what a John Kasich presidential campaign might look and sound like

PHOENIX, Ariz. – As he wrestles with another run for president, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is trying keep his political maneuverings above the fray and below the radar.

Case in point, the Republican isn't racing would-be rivals to early caucus and primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, and he hasn't been linked to top strategists who craft White House campaigns. Instead, Kasich came here this week to launch a national tour pegged around a single issue: balancing the federal budget.

Arizona is not a big electoral prize. It ranks higher, though, than Idaho, which Kasich also hoped to visit this week before scheduling problems got in the way.

But while Kasich publicly played the problem-solver in the desert, the slightest signs of a possible presidential bid began to surface behind the scenes.

Backed by a new nonprofit group that can raise unlimited cash, Kasich traveled to Phoenix with an unusually large entourage. He also widened his political circle, adding Sarah Nelson, a western states operative in Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign who will help Kasich navigate the same terrain on his balanced budget tour.

Most interestingly, Kasich dined privately Tuesday with Greg Wendt, who was a major fundraiser for U.S. Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign and a sizable donor to the Restore Our Future Super PAC that supported Romney.

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