COLUMBUS, Ohio – Unscripted moments are typical for Republican presidential contender John Kasich.
The second-term Ohio governor delivers even major addresses without a script or a teleprompter. On the campaign trail, he’s insistently impromptu – even if it means risking a foot in his mouth.
The latest example came on Monday, when Kasich said “women who left their kitchens” helped deliver him his first political victory in 1978. Feminists, including Democrat Hillary Clinton, balked at the stereotype.
Kasich pledged to be “a bit more careful” – but he also takes some pride in operating “on a high wire without a net,” even encouraging other candidates to be more candid.
Here is a look at some of Kasich’s more memorable verbal missteps:
INSULTING A COP
Early in his first term, Kasich called a police officer an “idiot” while speaking to a group of state employees.
Kasich recounted how he was cited for passing too close to an emergency vehicle and the officer told him he’d face an arrest warrant if he didn’t show up in court. “He’s an idiot,” Kasich said. “What people resent are people who are in the government who don’t treat the client with respect.”
Opponents of a proposal to restrict collective-bargaining laws – affecting police and fire unions, among others – used the comments in their high-profile fight against the plan. Kasich later met with and apologized to the officer.
The same man later investigated a four-vehicle accident in 2012 that involved Kasich. The governor laughed about the coincidence to reporters. “It’s sort of funny, in life, you’ve got to take as well as you give,” he said.
HIS “HOT WIFE”
During his 2012 State of the State address, Kasich asked his wife, Karen, to stand and wave. His introduction of her drew attention, when he recalled a cartoon “that said, ‘Kasich will still not reveal how he snagged that hot wife.’”
The governor Kasich then told the audience of state lawmakers and officials that he hoped they appreciated their spouses. “They never get the glory. They never get the light. They’re the ones that are, you know, raising the kids, taking care of the home front.”
The non-teleprompter speech contained a number of tangents.
At one point, Kasich described a vision he had of two House leaders in “a super car” with Jerry Seinfeld in the back seat. While discussing Ohio’s business sectors, he said, “Let’s stop treating agriculture as a stepchild.” And during a comparison of state rankings in job creation, he joked that California was “filled by a bunch of wackadoodles.”
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Recognizing an 18-year-old woman on the campus of the University of Richmond in Virginia, Kasich quipped, “I don’t have any tickets for, you know, Taylor Swift or anything.” She happened to be an editor at the student newspaper – and she shot back the next day with a column accusing Kasich of condescending to young voters.
“I didn’t go to the town hall forum for Taylor Swift tickets, Gov. Kasich,” she wrote. “I went because it’s my civic duty to be an informed voter.”
A TIP FOR THE MAID
Kasich, the son of a mailman and the grandson of immigrants, drew attention for an apparent generalization related to Latinos during remarks at a golf club in Orange County, California.
Speaking of his Latina maid, he said, “A lot of them do jobs that they’re willing to do, and that’s why in the hotel you leave a little tip.”
Critics swarmed, but it was one of the many times that Kasich’s unfortunate remarks drew some sympathy.
Javier Palomarez, president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, told Politico it was “a well-intentioned comment.”
“In my personal observation of John Kasich, he still represents that compassionate conservatism that has very much a Ronald Reagan feel to it,” he said.
Kasich acknowledged Monday that his penchant for speaking extemporaneously runs its risks. He’s banking on voters appreciating the approach for its authenticity and honesty – not its occasionally awkward moments.
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