Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura said Wednesday that he’s rooting for Donald Trump to win the Republican nomination for president.
The former professional wrestler also said he would be open to serving as Trump’s vice- presidential candidate.
“I shocked my staff today. I came in and said, ‘You know what, as far as the Republicans are concerned, I said I hope Trump wins,’ ” Ventura said on his Internet TV show “Off the Grid.”
Ventura’s kind words for Trump come despite some major policy differences with the GOP polling frontrunner. Most notably, while Trump first rose to prominence by criticizing Mexican immigrants, Ventura lives in Mexico and endorses a sort of international understanding.
“I love the life down there because it broadens me in the fact that, guess what, I’m the minority,” Ventura said in a Minneapolis speech last month. “It’s something that all white people should take part in at some point, being a minority, because it gives you a new perspective on the world around you.”
He also endorsed Mexican workers and said immigration status should not affect employment.
“What difference does it make if you hire someone and they’re a citizen of the country or not?” Ventura said.
That’s a stark contrast to Trump, who famously said: “When Mexico sends its people, … they’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems. … They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime.
Ventura has criticized Trump for those very sentiments.
“First of all, Donald, Mexico ain’t sending the people,” Ventura said on his show in July. “They’re coming here to experience the American dream, but I guess because their skin is brown, we need to put a wall up. If their skin was white, we’d welcome them in, right Don?”
In his Minneapolis speech, Ventura said, “We need relationships where we get honest opinions about people throughout the world, not Donald Trump opinions.”
Ventura — who continually flirts with the idea of running for president himself — previously endorsed a Democratic candidate, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Though Sanders and Trump have very different opinions on most issues, they do share a populist, anti-establishment theme — a theme that’s at the core of Ventura’s political identity. On Wednesday, after praising Trump, he added that he’s hoping someone runs who’s not part of either major party.