Kasich scores key New Hampshire endorsement

Story highlights

  • Former New Hampshire GOP chairman Fergus Cullen announced his support for John Kasich on Thursday
  • Cullen cited Kasich's positive tone as one of the main reasons for the endorsement

Newport, New Hampshire (CNN)Ohio Gov. John Kasich snagged the highly coveted endorsement of former New Hampshire GOP chairman Fergus Cullen, his campaign announced Thursday, just weeks before voters head to the polls for the first-in-the-nation primary.

Cullen, who was deciding between Kasich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, has attended more than 20 events held by candidates and hosted four candidates or potential candidates at his home for house parties.
He hosted one of Bush's first-ever events in New Hampshire back in March, before Bush became a candidate. He also hosted Kasich, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina (who dropped out in December and now supports Bush), and former Ambassador John Bolton, who decided not to run for president.
Cullen told CNN that he thinks Kasich has the best chance of winning New Hampshire and appreciates Kasich's positive and "consistent tone during this whole campaign."
"I've seen some other candidates have felt like they needed to dial up the anger on the stump in some kind of appeal to voters," he said.
Cullen, author of a new book on the history of the New Hampshire primary, has been a vocal opponent against Trump.
Asked if he thinks Kasich needs to be more forceful in his attacks against the GOP front-runner, Cullen said he thinks the whole GOP field needs to unite against Trump.
"I think the entire field needs to blunt with voters about how Trump is harming the Republican Party and its brand," he said.
Meanwhile, Bush's team is touting the support of retired Marine Corps Reserves Colonel Gary Lambert, a former state senator who served on Graham's leadership team and was also a sought-after endorsement in New Hampshire. Lambert appeared on the trail with Bush on Wednesday.
A spate of recent polls have shown Kasich climbing in the state, and he's raked in four newspaper endorsements across the state this week. A new CNN/WMUR poll shows Kasich tied with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky at 6%, following slightly behind other candidates like Bush and Rubio (who are tied at 10%), Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 14% and Trump at 34%.