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Pro-Kasich TV ad has Pure Michigan feel

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

A group supporting Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s Republican presidential campaign has released a new television ad that could be mistaken for a Pure Michigan commercial.

That’s because Michigan tourism pitchman and comedian Tim Allen narrates the 30-second ad, which the pro-Kasich New Day for America super political action committee plans to air in Michigan ahead of the March 8 primary.

The ad features video of University Georgia student Brett Smith’s emotional request for a hug from Kasich after detailing how a man he considered his second father committed suicide, his parents got divorced and his father lost his job over the period of a year.

“I was in a really dark place for a long time. But I found hope,” Smith told Kasich during a Feb. 18 town hall meeting in Clemson, S.C. “And now I found it in my presidential candidate whom I support, and I’d really appreciate one of those hugs you’ve been talking about.”

After showing Kasich and Smith’s embrace, which has been dubbed “The Hug” on the campaign trail, the ad ends with a single image of Kasich and soft background music as Allen delivers a final line: “There is a place for quiet strength — the Oval Office.”

Kasich finished fifth out of six candidates in the South Carolina primary behind fourth-place Jeb Bush, who dropped out of the race Saturday night.

Pure Michigan pitchman Allen endorsed Kasich for president in August, calling the Ohio governor “a Republican that a Democrat could vote for,” according to the Washington Times.

New Day for America said it purchased a “six figure” advertising buy for the spot to air in Michigan as well as the March 1 primary states of Massachusetts and Vermont, where Kasich is trying to turn his second place finish in the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary into wins on Super Tuesday.

John Weaver, Kasich’s chief campaign strategist, told The Detroit News on Friday that Kasich will come to Michigan on March 1 or March 2 and campaign here exclusively until the state’s March 8 primary.

Separately, the pro-Kasich super PAC said Monday it has 14 paid employees in Michigan working out of three offices in Grandville, Lansing and Mount Clemens and marshaling volunteers to make calls to Republican voters and pitch Kasich’s resume as a two-term governor and nine-term congressman.

Kasich polled fourth in the recent Detroit News/WDIV-TV poll of 600 likely Michigan Republican primary voters with 10.5 percent support. Kasich trailed U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 12 percent, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz at 15 percent and billionaire businessman Donald Trump’s 25 percent support.

About 21 percent of those surveyed Feb. 14-16 through telephone interviews said they were undecided, while another 36 percent said they backed a candidate but could change their minds.

clivengood@detroitnews.com

(517) 371-3660

Twitter.com/ChadLivengood