The endorsements were not any part of a concerted effort to nab backing from the space community – the Ohio governor has not even articulated any policy on space – but instead came about from personal connections and individual political leanings, Kasich’s campaign told ABC News.
Kasich’s campaign reached out to Bono first, then to Oswald, to gauge his interest, and the choice was clear, Oswald said.
“I think astronauts are pretty rational thinkers,” he said. “We tend to just work things through logically, and, you know, this is a no-brainer for me.”
It was his first endorsement of a politician, and he could not see himself supporting Kasich’s opponents, Oswald said. “I don’t frankly know how he’s going to get the nomination,” Oswald said, “but better to support somebody that you think could do a good job.”
Eugene Cernan, who in 1972 became the last man to walk on the moon, told ABC News that the Kasich campaign reached out to him after he made his feelings “known." He previously endorsed then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry's bid for the White House in 2012.
Kasich is “the kind of guy who believes he can do himself what he’s telling me he can do,” Cernan said. “When I listen to him talk, I see sincerity.” The Kasich campaign announced the Illinois native’s endorsement two days before Illinois' GOP primary last month.
A third astronaut, William Readdy, publicly backed Kasich, too, but he did not respond to calls and emails from ABC News requesting comment.
The space program has not yet become a topic of discussion in the 2016 presidential race.
Cruz’s home state plays host to astronauts and others linked to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, and last year, he became chair of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Space, and Competitiveness. He has called for NASA to increase space exploration.
“I was one of the chief architects of balancing the budget,” Kasich said in the advertisement. “It’s the first time we did it since man walked on the moon. We haven’t done it since.”