Ohio Gov. John Kasich clarified remarks he made about sexual assault and alcohol in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
At a town hall earlier in the week, a college student asked Kasich how he would help her “feel safer and more secure regarding sexual violence, harassment and rape” as president.
Kasich discussed initiatives taken in Ohio to provide support for students who have been assaulted or harassed before advising the student against alcohol-fueled parties.
“I’d also give you one bit of advice,” Kasich told the student. “Don’t go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol. OK? Don’t do that.”
Kasich told CNN political correspondent Dana Bash on Sunday that his intent was not to imply that victims of sexual violence were culpable for what had happened to them.
“My daughters are sometime going to go to college, and they’re going to go to a party where there’s alcohol,” Kasich told Bash. “It’s just you have to be careful.”
The presidential candidate proceeded to say that he thought rendering justice for students who had been assaulted was more difficult when alcohol was at play.
“When alcohol’s involved, it becomes more difficult for justice to be rendered for a whole variety of reasons,” Kasich said. “But we can still find a perpetrator … I just don’t want justice to be denied because something comes up that a prosecutor looks at and says, ‘Well, I can’t figure this thing out.’”
Kasich said he did not understand why some perceived his earlier comments as victim-blaming.
“I don’t care if there’s a party with alcohol,” Kasich said to Bash. “I’m just saying be careful. That’s what I would tell my daughters, be careful. But are you kidding me? Someone gets sexually assaulted, of course we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”
The governor then discussed the efforts taken to prevent and adjudicate sexual violence in his home state.
“When our folks first sat down with the colleges and universities, I have a lady attorney who sort of led this effort for me,” Kasich said. “They didn’t quite know what to do. And I said I don’t care about what they know or don’t know, we’re going to have a system in place to make sure that the women on our college campuses are protected, and if something would happen to them, that justice can be done.”