As John Kasich surges in the New Hampshire polls, the Ohio governor and Republican presidential candidate picked up an important endorsement this past weekend from conservative Alabama Governor Robert Bentley.
“I want us to win in 2016,” Bentley told Luke Russert on MSNBC on Tuesday. “And I believe that we can win with John Kasich.”
Bentley praised Kasich’s record saying that his experience, as a congressman and a governor, is exactly what the GOP needs. “There’s no one in the race, Democrat or Republican, that has as much ability as he does,” Bentley said.
But while Bentley has thrown his support behind the Ohio governor, the two haven’t always seen eye-to-eye on key issues. On immigration, Alabama passed a law in 2011 that the lead sponsor of the legislature boasted “attack[ed] every aspect of an illegal alien’s life.” Kasich, on the other hand, supports legalization for undocumented workers already living in the U.S.
Kasich will likely use the endorsement to show he can appeal to the Republican Party’s conservative base, despite being labeled in the past as a moderate.
Winning in the southern "Bible Belt," which includes Alabama, is critical for Kasich against more conservative opponents like Texas Senator Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
Bentley said that he believes that candidates like Kasich are better for the Republican Party than those like Cruz.
“Governor Kasich cares about the people of America, he cares about those that are here, maybe that are undocumented,” Bentley said. “He is a man that cares about people and I do that also.”