Barkley says he's leaning toward Kasich for president

Story highlights

  • "His idea of being a conservative is being inclusive," Barkley said.
  • Barkley also said he normally votes Democratic but is considering switching parties

Washington (CNN)Charles Barkley is leaning toward supporting John Kasich in the 2016 presidential race, the NBA hall-of-famer told CNN's Michael Smerconish Saturday morning.

"Just looking and listening to him on television and reading a couple of articles about him, he's the one who has my attention right now," Barkley said. "He's the front-runner for me."
The former Philadelphia 76er added that he appreciated Kasich discussing racial inclusivity in a recent interview with CNN's Dana Bash.
    "He talked about young black kids and giving them an opportunity. His idea of being a conservative is being inclusive," he said. "Most of the quote-unquote conservatives have attack and blame. It's already somebody else's fault why people aren't doing better."
    Barkley, who said he normally votes Democratic but is considering switching parties, said he is not inspired by any of the Democrats who are running.
    "(The party has) always taken the minority vote for granted," he said. "They have not done enough for the poor people."
    As for Republicans, Barkley has been slow to support them because he said they are divisive.
    "The only reason I have not been a big believer in the Republican Party in the past is I think they divide and conquer," he said. "For the last amount of years, they have been using the abortion debate. Now in the last few elections, they have been using the gay marriage thing, and those aren't working."
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    Barkley said the Republican Party is mishandling the immigration issue.
    "Now they are pulling out the other ace in the hole, which is immigration. I think there's a disservice in this country to act like (Hispanics) are all illegal and not law-abiding citizens," he said. "I live in Arizona. Is there a problem with immigration? There probably is a problem with it, but to act like immigration is the biggest problem in this country is a disservice to Hispanics."
    Barkley, a native Alabaman who has flirted in the past with running for the state's governorship, said he was not surprised that Donald Trump attracted 30,000 people to a rally in Mobile Friday night.
    "He's got a great personality and great charisma, so that's going to be media-driven," he said. "There's nothing happening right now that surprises me. He's a straight talker like Charles Barkley."
    Barkley, who has previously attracted controversy for his comments on race, also criticized Black Lives Matter activists for interrupting multiple candidates' speeches.
    "You can't go to a rally and scream. You have to come up with a plan. The black and Hispanic votes are very powerful," he said. "And we have to band together with the candidates and come up with answers on how to bring more economic opportunities to the blacks in the ghetto, to the Hispanics in certain neighborhoods."