Kasich camp apologizes for Strickland slam


COLUMBUS - The campaign for Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich on Wednesday apologized for its remark about Gov. Ted Strickland living "in a chicken shack on Duck Run" while growing up in southern Ohio.

Mr. Kasich later said he took campaign spokesman Rob Nichols to the figurative "woodshed" for making the comment while the Strickland campaign and Democrats called it an insult to all of Appalachian Ohio.

Mr. Nichols had sought to portray Mr. Strickland as being out of touch with the needs of urban Ohio, but the governor's supporters used his words to again draw comparisons with Mr. Kasich's tenure as a manager for Wall Street investment giant Lehman Brothers before its collapse in September, 2008.

Reacting to a Tuesday speech on the governor's urban agenda by his running mate, Yvette McGee Brown, Mr. Nichols said, "Not until Ted Strickland feared needing their votes did he give urban Ohioans a second thought. Having grown up in a chicken shack on Duck Run, he has all but ignored our cities' economies and their workers …"

Mr. Strickland himself has noted that he lived in a cardboard-covered chicken coop with his parents and eight siblings after their home burned while growing up in poverty in Scioto County. But coming from the Kasich campaign, the comment took on a different meaning for Strickland supporters.

"It's how he said it," said U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson (D., St. Clairsville), who represents the 6th Congressional District snaking along the Ohio River that Mr. Strickland once represented.

"His campaign is saying someone from a small town is not qualified to work on behalf of the people of Ohio …," he said. "The Kasich campaign comment is terribly degrading, not only to Ted, but to many of us in rural Ohio."

Later, shortly before delivering a speech to the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Kasich said he was upset by Mr. Nichols' comment.

"I heard about it [Tuesday] night. I was not happy and told Rob that, more or less took him to the woodshed. He understands I'm upset," he said, referring to the apology issued earlier by Mr. Nichols.

"But you know, I haven't changed my position,'' Mr. Kasich said. "When you lose 400,000 jobs, it means you're not even really performing, not just in the cities but the rural areas as well.''

In a written statement, Mr. Nichols said he had used Mr. Strickland's own words, but apologized anyway. "When he says those things about himself it's different than when others say them, and it could be viewed pejoratively," Mr. Nichols said. "That certainly wasn't intended."

Speaking at the City Club of Cleveland, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, a former Virginia governor, took his own swing at the "chicken shack" comment. "I don't know why they thought that's a bad thing, but maybe that's how it looks from the perspective of a Lehman Brothers consultant," he said.

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