To let CNN tell it, Donald Trump has women problems.
And we don’t mean in the sense that he has trouble finding an attractive dinner date:
Following a patently absurd spat with Ted Cruz that began when a supposedly unaffiliated anti-Trump group ran an ad featuring a GQ spread of Melania Trump and promptly ended when Trump publicly “schlonged” Cruz by re-tweeting a head-to-head beauty comparison between Melania and Heidi Cruz, some in the media are looking to rekindle the fire Megyn Kelly started last year when, at the first GOP debate, the Fox anchor asked the Republican frontrunner if he thought it was befitting of a presidential candidate to call women “disgusting animals.”
“Trump’s negatives among female voters are climbing,” Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster who runs the pro-Cruz super-PAC "Keep the Promise" says.
Conway is referring to a CNN poll from last week that shows 73% of women hold an unfavorable view of the billionaire. “The attrition is most striking among married and suburban female Republicans,” she remarked, adding that “They [women] can tolerate a snide remark or witty snark here or there, but draw the line at personal insults in place of policy prescriptions.”
Yes, “they draw the line at personal insults.” “Insults” like these (note the finale at 0:41):
That’s an ad bought and paid for by Our Principles PAC, a group run by staffers from Jeb Bush’s miserable failure of a campaign.
While Trump has thus far shaken off suggestions that comments he’s made in the past are alarmingly misogynistic, he seems to be making an attempt to mend some fences ahead of the Wisconsin primary. “After a week that found Trump launching attacks on Texas Senator Ted Cruz's wife, Heidi Cruz, and tossing barbs at Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, the billionaire front-runner on Monday attempted to play down his degrading comments about women, saying they were made in jest,” Bloomberg writes.
“I never knew I was going to be running for office. And you joke, and you kid and say things, but you’re not a politician so you never think anybody cares,” Trump told Wisconsin’s FOX 11 in a phone interview.
Needless to say, Trump's detractors don't think "I never thought I would be running for President" is a good excuse for disparaging women.
“[You have problems with] conservative women who are repelled by your attitude and your treatment of females,” Wisconsin-based conservative radio host Charlie Sykes told the frontrunner yesterday. “[I’ve] hired tremendous numbers of women,” Trump responded. “I have been better to women than any of these candidates, frankly.” Here's what Trump had to say on Twitter:
The media is so after me on women Wow, this is a tough business. Nobody has more respect for women than Donald Trump!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 26, 2016
Be that as it may, it's not just CNN whose polls show that Trump may have trouble with women voters - especially if he ends up squaring off against Hillary Clinton in the national election. A recent NBC/WSJ poll shows some 70% of women give Trump a negative rating while a Reuters poll conducted March 1-15 showed half of American women view the billionaire in a "very unfavorable" light (up 10 points from last autumn). In case that's in any way unclear, NBC made a giant red graphic with a long line of womens' restroom symbols on the bottom to illustrate the point:
"Some GOP strategists fear Trump would alienate women voters in historic numbers as the nominee, particularly if he faces Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, who hopes to become the first female president and hasn’t been shy to call out sexism in her primary battle against Bernie Sanders," Bloomberg continues.
"In 2012 Mitt Romney won white women by 14 points according to exit polls - 56% to 42% for President Barack Obama," NBC goes on to say, reinforcing the supposed threat to the GOP's chances in the national election. "But in the latest NBC/WSJ poll white women go to Hillary Clinton in a hypothetical general election matchup by 10 points, 48% to 38% [which would be] an enormous 24-point swing in the white women vote between 2012 and 2016."
Of course if all of this is completely accurate, one wonders how it is that Trump holds such a commanding lead over the rest of the GOP field. Were there no female Republican voters in Florida? Or in Arizona? Or in New Hampshire?
In any event, Trump was apparently surprised to learn that anyone still cares about this. "I thought this was actually a dead issue until I just spoke to you," he told Sykes.
And it probably was. But the establishment has to do something (anything) to derail this freight train, lest Trump should get to 1,237 before July and dash any hope Republicans had of denying him the nomination. And if you thought Megyn Kelly had "blood coming out of her eyes" at the debate in September, just wait until you see the establishment if Trump becomes the nominee.
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Bonus: Apparently not all women have an unfavorable view of the billionaire