In one of the gaffiest gaffes of this election cycle, Ohio Gov. John Kasich told a Virginia crowd Monday that, during an early statehouse race, women “left their kitchens” to support him.
Left their kitchens?
"And how did I get elected? Nobody was, I didn't have anybody for me. We just got an army of people who, um, and many women, who left their kitchens to go out and go door-to-door and to put yard signs up for me."
A woman in the audience, apparently displeased by this nostalgia, fired back.
"First off, I want to say — your comment earlier about the women came out of the kitchen to support you? I'll come to support you, but I won't be coming out of the kitchen.”
This isn’t Kasich’s first gender-related blunder. After a college student raised her hand last fall at an event, the candidate inexplicably quipped, “I’m sorry. I don’t have any Taylor Swift tickets.” (Hard to say if that one was a swipe at women or young people, in general.)
Sabrina Schaeffer, executive director of the right-leaning Independent Women's Forum, said Republican candidates would be wise to update their message to or about women.
Exit polls show they've been steadily losing the female vote. Three elections ago, nearly half of all working mothers who cast a ballot voted for George W. Bush, according to data compiled by The Washington Post. In 2008, the share plummeted to 40 percent for Sen. John McCain. By 2012, just one-third supported Mitt Romney.
"Republicans can’t say the word 'kitchen' without people jumping on them," Schaeffer said. But Kasich's verbal stumble "reinforces this idea that Republicans have an antiquated view of women and gender roles."
Last year, an American Action Network and Crossroads GPS poll found that 49 percent of women viewed Republicans unfavorably, while 39 percent viewed Democrats unfavorably. The report, according to Politico, asserts that Republicans “fail to speak to women in the different circumstances in which they live” — as people who work full-time jobs, for example. “This lack of understanding and acknowledgment closes many minds to Republican policy solutions."
Schaeffer, a Republican, remembers Mitt Romney’s 2012 “binders full of women” line, which launched a thousand memes.
Today’s candidates have had their fair share of GIF-able moments. Consider Jeb Bush’s assertion that “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.” (He claimed he misspoke.) Or Donald Trump hinting that Megyn Kelly had menstrual madness. Or Ben Carson separating women from their bodies: “They tell you that there’s a war on women. There is no war on women. There may be a war on what’s inside of women.”
Schaeffer noted that "the Republican front-runner has said all sorts of awful things about women." That probably won't affect the primary, considering Trump won New Hampshire and South Carolina. If he wants to sway moderates, though, addressing the needs of women who juggle jobs and kids with conservative-minded solutions would help, Schaeffer said. So far, Sen. Marco Rubio is the only Republican to propose a detailed paid leave policy.
Women, after all, identify as breadwinners in 40 percent of all households in the United States.
Of course, Republicans aren’t the only public figures prone to gaffes. Recall Gloria Steinem’s recent insinuation that young women only support Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders because “the boys are with Bernie.”
Kasich, who apologized hours after his awkward comment, promised to be more careful with his future word choice.
He added: “Everybody's just got to relax."