CONCORD, N.H. — John Kasich surged to a second-place finish in the New Hampshire primary in a pivotal boost for the Ohio governor as he heads to South Carolina, where he is polling in the back of the GOP pack.

Kasich was next in line after Donald Trump last night and ahead of Iowa winner Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and other favorites of the Republican establishment.

“When the media kept saying, ‘How are you going to do this?’ I said, ‘You know what? I have an insurance policy. It’s you,’ ” Kasich told hundreds of jubilant supporters here. “We see this as an opportunity to be part of something that’s bigger than us … to leave no one behind.”

While some of his opponents spent “tens and tens of millions of dollars” on attack ads, he said, his campaign refused to respond in kind “because we have more good to sell.”

Instead, Kasich took his plainspoken style on the road across the Granite State, promoting a moderate political approach to governing at more than 100 town meetings.

“There are too many people in America who don’t feel connected,” he said. “We’re all made to be a part of the healing of this world.”

Throughout the evening, cheers erupted from his supporters as voting results trickled in, propelling him each time further toward a solid showing behind the brash New York billionaire.

“I think he’s the least-partisan candidate and the only one who’s going to be able to go to Washington and make a difference,” said Melanie Norcross, 41, of Salem, N.H., who brought her 11-year-old daughter to the Grappone Conference Center, where the candidate was greeted by chants of “Kasich, Kasich, Kasich!” and “Unite not divide.”

Kasich faces a rough road in both South Carolina and Nevada — the next stops later this month in the race for the GOP nomination — where he is polling in the single digits.

The pro-Kasich super PAC, a New Day for America, has recently bought ads in South Carolina. But the second-term governor has spent only about 16 days in the Palmetto State since announcing his run for the Oval Office.

“We’re going to solve the problems in America not by being extreme, not by being first a Republican or Democrat, but reminding everybody that we are Americans dedicated to shining up America and fixing our problems,” Kasich said as he addressed supporters.

“The people of New Hampshire have taught me a lesson,” he added. “And from this day forward I’m going to go slower and spend lots of time listening and healing and helping and bringing people together to fix our great nation.”

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