'Absentee governor': Donald Trump starts to go after John Kasich

The week before the Ohio primary, Donald Trump has taken fresh aim at the state’s governor, who happens to be one of his three remaining Republican presidential rivals.

Gov. John Kasich is an underdog candidate, but he has recently surged in polls and is generally popular in his home state, which allots 66 delegates in its winner-take-all primary next Tuesday.

During a rally in North Carolina on Wednesday night, Trump referred to Kasich as an “absentee governor” and seemed to shrug off the challenge Kasich poses in Ohio.

“And, as you know, we have Ohio, which has an absentee governor,” Trump said as the audience booed Kasich. “Absentee. … I think we’re going to do great in Ohio. Great, great, great in Ohio.”

Trump, the clear frontrunner for the Republican nomination, also touted his poll numbers throughout the rally, emphasising how he’s beating other candidates by wide margins in several states.

But a recent poll found Kasich beating Trump for the first time in Ohio since polls started being conducted in August.

Kasich garnered 34% of support among likely Republican-primary voters in the state, while Trump grabbed 29% of the vote. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz clocked in at 19% support, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio registered 9%.

Still, two other polls released earlier on Wednesday found Trump with a six-point lead over Kasich in the Buckeye State. The governor’s campaign blasted out the Fox News poll results to reporters, saying that it was the first reliable survey conducted since last Thursday’s Republican presidential debate.

Maxwell Tani contributed to this report.

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