John Kasich
Republican presidential candidate John Kasich was criticised on social media after he told a student concerned about sexual assault to avoid parties 'where there is too much alcohol'. Reuters

Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich has told a female college student concerned about sexual violence to avoid "parties where there is too much alcohol". Kasich, who is in the distant last place in the race to become the Republican candidate for the presidency, was speaking at the Watertown, New York, town hall event on 13 April.

Kasich, who is behind property mogul Donald Trump and evangelical Christian Ted Cruz, was asked by a female student what policies he would introduce to help her "feel safer and more secure regarding sexual violence, harassment and rape".

The Ohio governor was quick to point out the need for readily accessible rape testing kits and safe, confidential place to report sex attacks. The Pennsylvania-born politician added that he wanted more awareness around sexual assaults on campus.

He said: "You ought to absolutely know that if something happens to you along the lines of sexual harassment or whatever, you have a place to go where there is a confidential reporting, where there is an ability for you to access a rape kit, where that is kept confidential, but where it gives you the opportunity to be able to pursue justice, after you have had some time to reflect on it all."

Kasich added: "I have two 16-year-old daughters, and I don't even like to think about it."

But he added after the student repeated her concerns: "Well, I would give you – I'd also give you one bit of advice. Don't go to parties where there's a lot of alcohol."

Some took to social media to criticise the statement made by Kasich, who is seen as the moderate alternative to Trump or Cruz. Christina Freundlich, spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement: "Republican presidential candidates, like John Kasich and Donald Trump, are insulting women every day on the campaign trail by blaming victims of sexual and domestic violence."

She added: "It is no wonder women are turning away from the Republican field in huge numbers. Our country deserves a president who will stand with them, not put the blame on them."

Kasich clarified his comments afterwards according to the Daily Mail: "There should be no confusion and no misunderstanding about what I feel about campus sexual assaults.

"I've done everything I can. In fact, we've checked the record and found that I've been probably one of the leaders in making sure that women have a safe place to go. I just said, be careful where there's alcohol. And the reason why I worry about that is, it obscures the ability of people to seek justice.

"Because then it gets to be about 'he said, she said', and there's alcohol, and it creates an inability to find the truth at times. That has nothing to do with saying that somebody who has been a victim is somehow responsible for it."