John Kasich prompts firestorm after telling female student not to 'go to parties where there's a lot of alcohol'
Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich told a female college student on Friday that she should avoid parties "where there's a lot of alcohol," prompting a wave of criticism from Democratic officials.
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Kasich's comments came as part of an answer to a question about his policies related to on-campus sexual assault.
A first-year student at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, asked the Ohio governor during a Watertown, New York, town-hall event how he'd help her "feel safer and more secure regarding sexual violence, harassment, and rape" should he be elected president.
Kasich first answered by discussing his record on the issue in Ohio. He said that he worked to make rape-testing kits and confidential reporting more accessible. And he argued that the policy changes helped provide a better opportunity to "pursue justice after you have had some time to reflect on it all."
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Kasich said that he would extend those statewide initiatives nationwide to ensure that students don't feel vulnerable.
"I have two 16-year-old daughters, and I don't even like to think about it," he said.
The student said that the epidemic of college sexual assault is "sad, but it's something that I have to worry about."
Kasich responded with what he called a "bit of advice."
"Don't go to parties where there's a lot of alcohol. OK? Don't do that," he said, as some in the audience applauded.
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The Democratic National Committee pounced on the comments, criticizing the governor in a statement that suggested he was "blaming victims of sexual and domestic violence."
"It is no wonder women are turning away from the Republican field in huge numbers," DNC spokeswoman Christina Freundlich said in the statement. "Our country deserves a president who will stand with them, not put the blame on them."
Democratic Party officials from Kasich's home state delivered a blistering critique as well, labeling his comments "outrageous."
"Let me say this simply, so that the governor can understand — rape victims are not responsible for rape. It's on all of us — men and women — to address campus sexual assault," said Kirstin Alvanitakis, the Ohio Democratic Party's communications director.
Kasich's staff fired off a series of tweets in an apparent attempt to clarify the governor's remarks and promote his policies toward campus sexual assault: