FAIRFAX, Virginia — While reflecting back on the first time he ran for public office, Ohio Gov. John Kasich said that he received the support of “many women, who left their kitchens” to help him campaign.
“How did I get elected?” Kasich asked the crowd, recalling his first run for state Senate in Ohio in 1978. “Nobody was — I didn’t have anybody for me. We just got an army of people, who, and many women, who left their kitchens to go out and go door to door and to put yard signs up for me. All the way back, when — you know, things were different. Now you call homes and everybody's out working. But at that time, early days, it was an army of the women that really helped me get elected to the state Senate. “
Kasich made the comment while speaking to a large crowd at George Mason University during a day-long swing through the crucial March 1 primary state of Virginia.
Minutes later, a woman who identified herself as a nursing student at the university stood up and asked Kasich a question about his decision to sign a bill in Ohio Sunday that diverts funding from Planned Parenthood in the state.
“Your comment earlier about the women coming out of the kitchen to support you — I’ll come support you but I wont be coming out of the kitchen,” she told him to some cheers and laughs from the audience.
“I gotcha, I gotcha,” he responded.
The governor's spokesperson Rob Nichols responded to the reactions stirred up by the comments. "John Kasich's campaigns have always been homegrown affairs. They've literally been run out of his friends' kitchens and many of his early campaign teams were made up of stay-at-home moms who believed deeply in the changes he wanted to bring to them and their families," he said. "That's real grassroots campaigning and he's proud of that authentic support. To try and twist his comments into anything else is just desperate politics."
Hillary Clinton jumped in to the backlash to Kasich’s comments, tweeting, "It's 2016. A woman's place is...wherever she wants it to be."
“I completely agree,” Kasich told reporters in Monday afternoon Charlottesville when asked about Clinton’s tweet.
"Again, you know what, in my lifetime, women played not just a huge role directly ... campaign manager, lieutenant governor, Supreme Court justice ... but also scattered throughout my department. We have a number of women playing huge roles … I'll be a little bit more careful but I'm going to continue to operate," he said. "You don't want to high wire without a net. And quite frankly, I wanna see everybody who's running for president, get out of the scripted role and start to be real and take questions."
Kasich chalked up his comments this morning to how unscripted he is as a candidate, acknowledging that he could sometimes phrase things more “artfully.”
"I don't use teleprompters, I don't run around with all these notes like lots of people will do," Kasich told reporters. "I'm real. And maybe sometimes, I might say something that is not as artfully said as well as it should be. But I'm kind of a real guy and I think people want authenticity.
About a dozen protesters gathered outside Kasich’s event in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday night, shouting lines like “Today I left my kitchen cause Kasich has no vision,” "My body, my choice” and "Kasich’s basic!” Emily Bolton, the communications director for the Democratic Party of Virginia, told NBC News that the protesters were organized by the state party working with local student activist groups. She said the protest had been planned to rally against the bill that cut funding to Planned Parenthood in Ohio, which Kasich signed on Sunday, but that the governor’s “kitchen” remark earlier Monday made it so it "wasn’t hard to find folks to get inspired to get out here.”
This is not the first time Kasich has come under fire for making dismissive comments during his town halls. “ Earlier in the campaign, he dismissed a question from a University of Richmond female student saying, "No, I don't have Taylor Swift tickets for you." He later took her question, but it set off a firestorm on social media.
This article first appeared on NBCNews.com.