John Kasich ended his town hall at Clemson University in South Carolina this afternoon with a hug from a young man who told the Republican presidential candidate he gave him hope amid his personal despair.
During a question-and-answer session, 21-year-old Brett Smith told the Ohio governor he had driven up from Georgia to see him. A man close to him had recently killed himself, his parents had divorced and his father had lost his job, Smith said.
Amid a dark time in his life, Smith said, Kasich gave him hope.
"I found hope,” he said, standing before around 200 attendees. "I found it in the Lord and in my friends, and now I found it in my presidential candidate that I support, and I’d really appreciate one of those hugs you’ve been talking about.”
Kasich obliged, coming down from the stage and embracing the young man, a senior at the University of Georgia, as he choked up and blinked away tears.
“The Lord will give you strength, I promise you, if you ask him,” Kasich said in Smith's ear.
Kasich returned to the stage, visibly moved. "As I have been out here, this is not unusual,” Kasich said. "That story is so painful.”
He continued: "I’ve heard about the pain of people all across this country, and what I’ve learned is we're going too fast in our lives. We need to slow down.”
Smith, of Franklin, Georgia, told ABC News that he was drawn to Kasich’s optimism.
“He’s just someone who brings people together,” he said. “It’s just nice to see someone that's a human caring about other humans and being sincere."