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Ohio Gov. John Kasich faced some real-time criticism on the campaign trail in Virginia on Monday, when he praised the support he once received from women “who left their kitchens” to support him the first time he ran for public office.
“How did I get elected?” the Republican hopeful asked a crowd at George Mason University in Fairfax. “We just got an army of people, who — and many women — who left their kitchens to go out and go door-to-door and to put yard signs up for me.”
Kasich was elected to the Ohio state senate in 1978.
“All the way back, when, you know, things were different,” he said. “Now, you call homes and everybody’s out working. But at that time, early days, it was an army of the women that really helped me get elected.”
Later, in a Q&A with the audience, a woman who identified herself as a nursing student at the school prefaced a question by chastising the Ohio governor for his remarks.
“Your comment earlier about the women coming out of the kitchen to support you — I’ll come support you, but I won’t be coming out of the kitchen,” she said, to applause.
“I gotcha, I gotcha,” Kasich replied.
Gov. John Kasich of Ohio addresses a town hall event in Fairfax, Va., on Monday. (Photo: Jim Bourg/Reuters)
Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols tried to downplay the governor’s comments.
“John Kasich’s campaigns have always been homegrown affairs,” Nichols said in a statement to NBC News. “They’ve literally been run out of his friends’ kitchens, and many of his early campaign teams were made up of stay-at-home moms who believed deeply in the changes he wanted to bring to them and their families. That’s real grassroots campaigning, and he’s proud of that authentic support. To try and twist his comments into anything else is just desperate politics.”
Kasich himself later apologized.
“Sure, I’m sorry,” Kasich told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Anybody who’s offended, of course. I’m not — look. Of course, I’m more than happy to say I’m sorry if I offended somebody out there, but it wasn’t intended to be offensive.“
"Sometimes when you operate on the high wire without a net, you’ll fall off and not say things exactly the way you want to,” he said. “But let me be clear: The beginning of my campaign for public office, I did town halls. Except they were in people’s homes. They were at breakfast tables, they were during — at evening when we had coffee, and I recruited people. And I want to be clear: We had a lot of women that played a major role in my political campaign.”
On this point, Kasich appears to be right.
In 1978, when Kasich mounted his state senate run, just 33 percent of women aged 16 to 64 worked full-time in the United States, according to a survey published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2013, that figure was over 53 percent.
And women continue to volunteer at a higher rate than men “across all age groups, educational levels and other major demographic characteristics,” according to a BLS report released last year. About 28 percent of women volunteered in 2014, the survey found, compared to 22 percent of men.
Still, it’s not the first time the Ohio Republican’s tongue has gotten him into trouble this cycle.
At a town hall event at the University of Richmond in October, Kasich called on a female student during a Q&A.
But before she could ask a question, Kasich quipped: “I’m sorry, I don’t have any Taylor Swift tickets.”
The student, Kayla Solsbak, penned an open letter to Kasich that was published in the school’s newspaper the next day.
The title: “No, John Kasich, I don’t want Taylor Swift tickets.
“I didn’t go to a town hall forum for Taylor Swift tickets, Gov. Kasich,” she wrote. “I went because it’s my civic duty to be an informed voter. Please start treating me like one.”