John Kasich steps up his attacks on Donald Trump

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Ohio Governor John Kasich speaks at the 2016 U.S. Republican presidential candidates debate held by CNBC in Boulder, Colorado, October 28, 2015.

REUTERS

Ames, IowaOhio Gov. John Kasich tweeted out an anti-Trump video created by his campaign just minutes before he spoke at Iowa State University. And while he did not mention GOP front runner Donald Trump by name during the speech, Kasich did reference Trump's attacks on a number of groups and individuals, questioning Trump's ability to be a leader. "I don't think anyone wants that," Kasich said.

After the event, reporters asked Kasich why he decided to put campaign money into the new Trump attack video, and his aide quickly responded that there was "no money" behind the ad because it had been produced in-house. Kasich did not address the resources that went into creating the video, but he did describe his contempt for Trump's divisive language when asked about the catalyst for creating the video.

"The issue of attacking Hispanics, or Muslims, or women, or mocking somebody who is disabled, it is just not something that we want in a leader," Kasich said. "I mean, this is not designed to relay any personal attack on him. That is not what this is. It is about what I think we need to be able to lead the country, and I think there are a lot of people that are glad that I am finally speaking out because nobody else is."

Targeting Trump for derogatory language signals a change in tone for Kasich, who just months ago would not comment on the front runner or his aggressive language.

"It just doesn't seem to bother me," Kasich said in August of Trump's attacks on FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly. And earlier in the summer he explained of Trump: "I don't have a read on it. I'm not talking about him." He also said, "I've got to talk about me" to improve his low poll numbers.

Kasich, who had not visited Iowa in over three weeks, still remains low in the Iowa polls. He currently hovers just above 1 percent in the RealClearPolitics average -- but he maintained on Monday that he will stay in the race through the Iowa caucus. He noted that his numbers are "not dependent on national polls, and I really haven't spent all the time I would like to in Iowa, but I am in the top tier in New Hampshire."

Yet even when talking about his poll numbers, Kasich referenced Trump. He said that a large swath of voters still do not support the billionaire front runner.

"He is not going to be the nominee, he won't last," Kasich explained. "When you have 20 percent or 23 percent in the polls, that means that 77 percent aren't with you."

Last week Kasich's super PAC, New Day for America, ran its first Trump attack ads and said it will spend $2.5 million to target Trump. The group also released a web video narrated by retired Air Force Col. Tom Moe, a former Vietnam POW, which used a poem from pastor Martin Niemöller about Nazi Germany to come down on Trump.

"You might not care if Donald Trump says Muslims should register with their government, because you're not one," Moe is shown saying over ominous music. "And you might not care if Donald Trump says he's going to round up all the Hispanic immigrants, because you're not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump says it's okay to rough up black protesters, because you're not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump wants to suppress journalists, because you're not one. But think about this: If he keeps going, and he actually becomes president, he might just get around to you. And you better hope there's someone left to help you."

These sentiments were similar to those espoused by Kasich in Iowa today -- where Trump remains in the lead.