— -- At nearly every stop on his "quixotic" presidential campaign, John Kasich implores those around him to take a widow out to dinner.
“Anybody here lost a spouse?” the Republican candidate asked a room full of people one chilly night last October at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in northern New Hampshire.
A man spoke up amid the silence. He had been married 45 years before his wife passed away.
“Anybody ever invite him to dinner?” Kasich said rhetorically, before adding inexplicably that he couldn’t do so as Ohio’s governor or even as president, but that he could “talk about it” instead. “We gotta be a community,” Kasich said. “We gotta be neighbors. And I’m gonna try to get ya a dinner date.”
The story has come to encapsulate Kasich's quirky motivational speaking style and the reason he says he is running against all odds: to improve the world, to encourage others to help their neighbors and to tell as many people as possible that God has made them special.
The "widow," according to Kasich’s campaign, is an amalgamation of men and women who have approached the candidate with their tragic stories, some with tears in their eyes and others unaware of just how alone they actually are.
When Kasich brings up the widow example, he starts by saying that this person (usually a woman) was married for 54 years, or sometimes 52 or 50, depending on the day. “No one calls her anymore,” he often says. “Nobody pays attention to her.”
“You call her on Monday and say, ‘My spouse and I are going to take you out to dinner on Saturday,’” he told a rally in Columbus, Ohio, last month, as he has done dozens of other times. “On Thursday, she goes and gets her hair done. And on Saturday, when you pick her up, she puts on the dress that she had not worn in six months."
“Did you change the world?” he asked. “I think you did.”
In early March, Kasich broke the news that an actual widow had called him up. “I like to talk about a woman,” he told a gathering of Republicans in Birch Run, Michigan. “She just contacted my office. I didn't even know she existed.”
But he has struggled to unite primary voters with this hopeful message while his competitors Donald Trump and Ted Cruz take center stage. Yet this message is what keeps Kasich going despite the continued calls and pressure to suspend his campaign.
He said he sometimes questioned why he was running for president. “I needed to be here today, I think, to tell you what I just told you,” Kasich explained on Monday while campaigning in New York. “Does that sound crazy? Maybe? A little bit? Who cares? I feel great telling you it, because I know it to be true.”