There is an axiom in politics: If you’re explaining, you’re losing. After this remark, John Kasich’s team went into full explanation mode, but the governor of Ohio had better hope that Donald Trump wins the news cycle again today. Otherwise, this will be the Media Outrage Du Jour:
“We just got an army of people – and many women, who left their kitchens to go out and go door-to-door and put yard signs up for me all the way back when things were different,” Kasich said during a campaign stop in Fairfax, Va.
Kasich quickly added, “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 to get elected to state senate.”
Note that it didn’t take any media outrage for that remark to get a reaction:
Later during his speech at George Mason University, Kasich fielded a question from a woman who referenced the Ohio governor’s remark, saying, “I’ll come to support you, but I won’t be coming out of the kitchen.”
“I got you, I got you,” Kasich responded.
Hoo boy. That makes “binders full of women” look like Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” — especially since the “binders full of women” actually was an explanation of the empowerment of women during Mitt Romney’s term as governor of Massachusetts. This comes across as an assumption that all of his female support back in 1979 was from hausfraus. That may have been somewhat more the case back in 1979 than today, but much of the shift of women entering the workforce had already begun by that time — and Kasich’s framing of that support sounds more like it belongs from twenty years prior to that.
The Kasich campaign began explaining the remarks almost as soon as Kasich got rebuked by the audience member:
— Hallie Jackson (@HallieJackson) February 22, 2016
Of course that’s almost assuredly true, but “stay-at-home moms” sounds empowered these days, at least most people. Assuming women “left their kitchens” to engage in politics … doesn’t. It’s a semantic point, but politics is in part about semantics. It matters not just what candidates say, but how they say it as well. (Or at least that’s the case for every other candidate except Donald Trump.) Kasich has been in politics for nearly 40 years and should know this, especially since his big selling point is his experience.
In the end, though, this will matter little because Kasich has little chance to win the nomination … and perhaps even less now. On the other hand, it might improve his chances to get on the bottom of the ticket, especially if the media follows its pattern over the last eight years of being charmed by the gaffery of Joe “Obama’s clean and articulate” Biden. Of course, that would require the media to treat a Republican VP candidate the same as a Democrat, which stopped being a tradition long before Kasich won that first seat in the state legislature.
Update: You think Kasich will send flowers to Ted Cruz for rescuing him?