With Virginia’s March 1 primary just eight days away, Republican presidential hopeful Gov. John Kasich made a campaign stop at VCU on Monday night.
The Ohio governor, who is in last place among the remaining GOP candidates in Virginia according to a poll by Christopher Newport University, took several questions from members of an at capacity audience at the Baruch Auditorium in the medical campus’ Egyptian Building.
Kasich discussed a variety of topics including social security reform, the national debt and student debt, a topic which was introduced by a medical student who said she would graduate from university with over $200,000 of debt.
“You think I’m going to say that’s fair,” Kasich replied as he alluded to his solutions for alleviating student debt.
“Of course we should bring banks in now to compete with better deals. I think employers, hospitals should be offering to pay down debt as a recruiting tool,” he said.
Kasich pivoted away from student debt to talk about the national debt. A debt clock had been set up on the stage during the town hall.
“Folks we are going to have to do something about this debt, I don’t know what it is yet,” Kasich said. “If you are business and you do not change, you die. If you are in government and you do not change you push upon your people $19 trillion in debt.”
One of the evening’s most notable moments came when Kasich was asked a question regarding mental health by a woman who said she had five family members fall victim to suicide after struggling with mental health issues.
“I have no idea what to say to you,” Kasich said. “How are you standing?”
Kasich did not specify a policy outline for mental health treatment on a national level. However, he promised to address the issue with reforms in his home state of Ohio.
“The issue of depression is real, and if it isn’t visiting your family, get on your knees and thank god it’s not,” Kasich said.
A group of protesters, including some students at VCU, gathered outside the event and held signs indicating they “left the kitchen to come to this protest.”
Earlier on Monday, at a rally at George Mason University, Kasich sparked controversy when he said “many women left their kitchens to go out and to go door to door to put up yard signs for me.” The governor later apologized for the comment on CNN.
Among the protesters present at Kasich’s event was sophomore Laura Bryant, who called Kasich’s statement “derogatory toward women,” and said the governor’s record on women’s health issues in his home state of Ohio was “abysmal.”
Kasich’s state party chairman for Virginia, Tom Davis, said the governor’s quote was taken out of context by the protesters.
“They are saying something that they think he said this morning at the event in George Mason and it’s not remotely what he said,” Davis said. “They are totally uninformed and they’re just out there trying to create a problem.”
Both Kasich and Davis mentioned the VCU men’s basketball team as part of the reason why the campaign came back to Richmond.
“We wanted to come to come to VCU because he loves the basketball team,” Davis. “He knows all about them.”
Print News Editor, Andrew Crider
Andrew is a junior economics major who has written for student newspapers since he was in high school. Andrew is interested in political history, aviation, photography and running. He has a tendency to refer to his peers, coworkers and bosses as “ma’am” or “sir,” but is getting better about referring to his friends at the CT by their first names instead. // Facebook