New Hampshire was said to be the crucible for the three governors running for the centrist/establishment lane of the GOP presidential contest.
The winner of that competition was John Kasich, the Ohio Governor who came in second place behind Donald Trump.
Jeb Bush came in fourth, ahead of Marco Rubio and Chris Christie, whose future in the race now looks dubious.
On MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Wednesday, Bush began laying out the case why he should be the conservative choice over Kasich.
“A conservative needs to win the conservative party’s nomination, and I’m the most conservative governor and most conservative candidate with a proven record in the field right now, and that’s my case,” he said.
On Monday, Right to Rise, Bush’s Super PAC, began airing an ad in New Hampshire critical of Kasich’s record and past statements.
However, the enmity goes both ways. ABC News reported on Tuesday that Kasich supporters making phone calls on behalf of their candidate were instructed in their scripts to criticize Bush.
On Morning Joe, Bush explicitly criticized Kasich on what is undoubtedly an issue that could hurt him with Republicans – his decision to expand Medicaid, allowing more Ohio citizens to sign on to the Affordable Care Act.
“John’s a good man, he’s served as governor in the state of Ohio, he’s done a good job,” Bush said. “But his record is not nearly as good as mine. And the one telling thing that he did, apart from not really focusing on rebuilding the military, is that when he had a chance, he expanded Obamacare through Medicaid.”
“He’ll have to explain that down here,” Bush added. “People want (the ACA) repealed. They don’t want it expanded.”
Bush mentioned how Rick Scott was one of some Republican governors who resisted Medicaid expansion; an issue considered anathema by the GOP establishment since it is part of the Affordable Care Act. The issue has divided Republicans, and Arizona’s Jan Brewer and Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett were two other governors who opted for expansion.
Bush refused to say how he’ll do in the South Carolina Primary, which takes place on February 20. He did say that Kasich doesn’t seem to have much of an effort on the ground in the Palmetto State, saying that it appears the Ohio Governor “had a one-state strategy.”
“My intention is to do well here, ” Bush said. “To build on the success we had and to continue to make the case that we need a proven leader in Washington D.C. to fix the mess, not just to talk about how bad things are but to actually allow people to rise up again, because people are struggling in this country.”