John Kasich promised South Carolina voters he'll "keep hanging in there" regardless of the results in the state's Saturday Republican primary.
Kasich's comments, one day after he hugged a grieving supporter in one of the most emotional moments of the campaign cycle, came in response to a voter at a Columbia town hall on Friday.
The voter pleaded with the candidate to "not quit on us; we need you more than you need us."
Kasich is tied with Ben Carson at the bottom of the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll of likely Republican voters in South Carolina.
U.S. & World
News from around the country and around the globe
Kasich, who finished second in the New Hampshire primary, joked that expectations say he'll be able to fit all of his votes Saturday "in a Volkswagen."
"Clearly we're gonna do better than that — we may be able to put them in a van," he said.
Kasich made headlines a day earlier when he comforted a college student who said he drove up to Clemson University from Georgia to let "everyone else" know why his support is "unwavering."
The student, identified by The New York Times as Brett Smith, said that he lost someone to suicide who was "like my second dad."
"Then a few months later, my parents got a divorce," Smith continued. "And then a few months later, my dad lost his job and I was in a pretty dark place for a long time. I was pretty depressed but I found hope. I found it in the Lord and in my friends, and now I've found it in my presidential candidate that I support and I'd really appreciate one of those hugs you've been talking about."
Kasich went on to hug him and whisper in his ear, "The Lord will give you strength," the Times reported.
Kasich opened up about the encounter at a town hall event on CNN later that evening.
He explained that there are "a lot of people out there who are lonely and who are looking for a place to tell people their issues."
Such experiences have slowed him down, Kasich said.
He then talked about losing both of his parents to a drunk driver.
"Life is so rocky. It's so fragile," Kasich said.
He said his faith has helped him cope with his own loss and meet with others like military families who have lost loved ones.