When Myrtle Beach resident Susan Mense heard her childhood neighbor John Kasich was running for President of the United States, she called the Ohio Governor’s office and told them to let her know if the governor was planning a visit to Myrtle Beach.
She got the call last week that he would be here Monday, and knew right away she and her husband Jeff had to be there.
“We were back yard neighbors and the ball used to go in my dad’s garden and he used to yell at him,” Susan Mense said with a laugh.
She said she was impressed with her fellow McKees Rock, Pa., native’s message of the importance of building relationships to get things done worldwide and domestically. “I thought it was great. I think us growing up where we grew up, in a very ethnic neighborhood, his father was the mailman and my father worked at the steel mill, we grew up with hard-working parents who instilled in us the values that I think he’s talking about,” she said.
The former Ohio congressman turned political commentator and now the Buckeye state’s current governor stopped at Horry Georgetown Technical College on Monday in his Republican bid for president.
Monday was a big day for the presidential hopeful. He was endorsed by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, a past supporter and delegate for Mike Huckabee, the ex-governor of Arkansas who’s also running for president. His backing shows Kasich’s support broadening geographically outside key early primary states where he has so far focused his campaigning and extends to his party’s more conservative wing.
Kasich entered the race less than a month ago. But he’s building momentum off a strong showing at the first GOP presidential debate in Cleveland.
Happiness doesn’t come chasing after us. It comes from living a life bigger than yourself and helping other people.”
John Kasich, Republican Presidential candidate
Kasich also filed papers Monday for the first GOP presidential primary in the South, slated for Feb. 20 in South Carolina. South Carolina is the third state to host a primary, behind Iowa and New Hampshire, which is where he is heading in the coming week.
But on Monday he stopped in a place already popular with many folks in his home state. Myrtle Beach is a popular vacation spot for Ohio residents, making up about 6 percent of the Grand Strand’s annual visitation numbers, according to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
Kasich’s message in Myrtle Beach was strong on relationships.
“Relationships matter,” Kasich said. “You know why Congress doesn’t function anymore? Because there are no relationships. Nobody has a relationship with anybody else, and the same is true with our allies.”
Michael Ferrari, of Carolina Forest, said he liked Kasich’s message of unity.
“I really liked when he said, ‘No Democrats, no Republicans, we’re Americans,’” Ferrari said.
Kasich covered an array of international issues he’d address if elected President, including not reinstating the military draft, and building relationships internationally to ensure America’s position in the world.
“When it comes to the Israelis, and I’m President of the United States, and the Prime Minister comes to the United States, I don’t care if the election is the next day, I’ll sit down and have a cup of coffee with him,” Kasich said to thunderous applause. “... At the end of the day, people are going to wonder what we contributed in our life... We need to re-ignite the flame of the ability to change the world in which we live.”
Kasich said it’s a message that can be used domestically, as well.
“Happiness doesn’t come chasing after us,” he said. “It comes from living a life bigger than yourself and helping other people.”
That’s what struck a chord with Jeff Mense.
“That’s kind of the message he was giving, I think,” Mense said. “It certainly resonates with me. We have to live beyond ourselves and use the blessings that we’ve got.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.