John Kasich has been thanking women for getting out of the kitchen for his entire career

The GOP presidential candidate has pledged to help damsels in distress

“Don’t worry ladies, even out of the kitchen I’ll keep you safe.” © Rogelio V. Solis/AP

By Tim Townsend

When Ohio Gov. John Kasich told a crowd Monday that he owed his first election victory, in 1978, to “women who left their kitchens” to campaign for him, the presidential contender was barely hinting at his longtime gratitude toward what he calls “the much fairer sex, if you know what I mean.”

Kasich’s mother, Anne Vukovich Kasich, was of Croatian ancestry, and her son later said he learned many Croatian folk phrases from his uncles that helped him come to understand women. Among them (loosely translated): “If a woman falls in the forest, don’t worry about it, she’ll be home in time to wash your underpants,” “The pomegranate doesn’t fall far from the tree, but if it did, don’t get up from your stump because the woman will bring it to you,” and “Like mother, like daughter, like hurry up and finish putting on your goddamn makeup.”

As a student at The Ohio State University, Kasich was a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity, whose local chapter motto at OSU in 1970 was “If you’re foxy, feel free to knocksie (on our door.)”

“We were young and dumb,” he wrote later in his memoir, Courage: A Mostly Male Attribute, “But we eventually learned that the best way to meet women in college is in a physics or engineering class, where they really need your help.”

It was during Kasich’s Ohio State years that he got his first taste of politics on the big stage, and with it came some valued advice from a big player. As a freshman, Kasich wrote to President Richard Nixon asking to visit the Oval Office. OSU president Novice Fawcett delivered the letter to Nixon, who invited Kasich to the White House. The meeting was formative.

Kasich and President Nixon, 1970 © The White House

“I think President Nixon saw me as a promising young man, with a political future ahead of him, so he sort of treated me like a nephew and told me some things I should remember about the 50% of the American electorate with nice legs,” Kasich wrote in Courage. “‘Listen up, boy,’ the president told me. ‘Just remember that women are at their best when they stay at home and look after the kiddos, so make sure you appeal to the homemaker instinct. Also, women love to sing and dance, but they can’t parallel park. Good luck, and get the fuck out of my office.’ I’ve treasured that advice in every campaign I’ve run.”

After his “women who left their kitchens” remark on Monday, Kasich got an earful from women and from his opponents’ campaigns. “Everybody’s just got to relax,” he said, a seemingly off-the-cuff, cool-your-jets response.

But the phrase resonated with true Kasich insiders who knew that “Everybody’s Just Got To Relax,” was the motto for his successful campaign for Ohio’s 12th congressional district in 1982.

Kasich and his team designed the campaign to stress the “lady issues” that their focus groups uncovered. “Everybody’s Just Got To Relax,” was, of course, targeted at masseuses (but, cleverly, was also intended to be elastic enough to appeal to other voter groups, like people who were stressed out from playing racquetball, listening to “Forever Your Girl” or drinking Harvey Wallbangers).

Kasich realized there was something old-fashioned about Nixon’s views on women. It was the ’80s now, and women were working in all kinds of areas, not just in the massage industry. And for decades now, they had been allowed to work as secretaries, teachers and librarians. Maybe women were working (and making!) too much.

Kasich keepin’ it relaxed on the 1982 campaign trail. © John Kasich

“Everybody’s Just Got To Relax” would drive home the message that, as a representative to the United States Congress, Kasich would help them do just that — relax and enjoy some much-needed recreation.

He promised to “help women throw better” and pledged to get women “off the golf course and onto the tennis court, with the small skirts, et cetera,” saying, at one event that “women’s breasts are simply impediments to a great golf swing. I’m sorry, but it’s just a sad fact of biology.”

Kasich served nine terms in the US House of Representatives, and was later a two-time governor of his home state. He’s now one of the last-standing candidates for the GOP presidential nomination. But in his most recent book, Free Your Balls, America!, he reveals there’s still a lot of work to do on behalf of the nation’s prettier people.

As president, Kasich writes, he would push Congress hard for “robust, women-only parallel parking education funding,” and “on Day One, send legislation to Congress that would allow women to be doctors,” and “not just stall out at the nurse level.”

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