Alabama Governor Robert Bentley endorsed fellow Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio for president Monday, citing the candidate’s record and “compassion.”
Kasich, 63, accepted Bentley’s backing at a press conference at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in Birmingham. Bentley cited Kasich’s time as governor and nine terms in Congress as solid preparation to be president.
“Coupled with John Kasich’s compassion for the people he serves and desire to make their lives better, our country will be stronger with him as president,” Bentley said in a release.
Kasich’s campaign hopes the early endorsement from the chief executive of a conservative Southern state, which was initiated by Bentley, will show the candidate’s broadening appeal.
“I’m very excited about what we’re going to be able to do together to move the campaign forward in Alabama, the South and across the nation,” Kasich said in a release.
Bentley’s endorsement comes as Kasich has been rising in New Hampshire polls since he announced his presidential bid July 21. The Ohio governor also won positive reviews for his call for pragmatic leadership at the first Republican presidential debate in Cleveland on Aug. 6.
Bentley and Kasich have both bucked their party on taxes. The Ohio governor's pursuit of policies such as expanding Medicaid to help the disadvantaged and increasing drilling taxes on oil and natural gas companies to help pay for income-tax cuts has been opposed by his Republican-controlled legislature.
A 72-year-old dermatologist elected to a second term in 2014, Bentley has proposed filling a $700 million hole in Alabama’s $1.8 billion general fund with tax increases on cigarettes, car sales, insurance premiums and utilities.
The legislature has blocked Bentley, and the state party is even urging lawmakers to defy him. A special session called to deal with the impasse ended with no resolution Aug. 11, meaning Bentley must call a new session to get a spending plan approved by Oct. 1.
After accepting Bentley’s endorsement in Alabama, Kasich is expected to head to South Carolina to file paperwork in the capital, Columbia, that will allow him to appear on the Republican presidential ballot in the early primary state.
The Ohio governor also is scheduled to discuss military and foreign affairs at the Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security Forum in Myrtle Beach. He heads to the Iowa State Fair on Tuesday and back to New Hampshire on Wednesday.