Thursday, April 28, 2016

Trump plays the women's card against Hillary

Hillary Clinton speaks during a primary night event in Philadelphia. (Tracie Van Auken / European Pressphoto Agency)

Although I’m somewhat of a political junkie, I’ve managed to tune out Donald Trump; I just haven’t paid that much attention to him. After all, in a presidential election year in which Democrats Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin Omalley have risen up against Republican candidates Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina,  Marco Rubio, etc., to name just a few, can Donald Trump be expected to stand out? Maybe not.

Guess what? Trump got my attention today when he dismissed Hillary Clinton by saying “I think the only card she has is the women’s card.” Evidently, Trump got the attention of quite a few others with that comment: quoted in Business Insider, Matt Lauer asked Trump: 'Do you even care' that so many women have a negative view of you?”

On the East Coast, according to the NY Times, Trump keeps playing the women’s card against Clinton: “He claimed that women do not like Mrs. Clinton, and he has every right to attack her.”

Meanwhile on the West Coast, the LA Times reports: Trump's 'woman's card' jab at Clinton isn't how GOP wanted to get female voters' attention.”

LA Times reporter Cathleen Decker writes: 

When Republican leaders declared after the last losing presidential election that the party had to do more to attract female voters, this was not what they had in mind.

Before a national audience Tuesday night, Donald Trump railed at Hillary Clinton’s qualifications for the White House, describing her as an affirmative action hire by the Democratic Party.

“The only card she has is the woman’s card; she’s got nothing else going,” Trump said Tuesday. “And frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5% of the vote. … The beautiful thing is women don’t like her, OK, and look how well I did with women tonight!”

Bluster? Yes. Reality? No.

Trump has grown increasingly popular among Republican women. But one of his biggest weaknesses as he looks toward a probable November clash with Clinton is the broader pool of female voters. They aren’t all rapt Clinton supporters, but they like her far better than they like him.

His routine broadsides against women — mocking Carly Fiorina’s face, raising the specter of Megyn Kelly’s menstrual cycles, passing along an unflattering picture of an opponent’s wife and now asserting that Clinton lacks the “strength” and “stamina” to serve as president — do little to endear him.

And describing a two-term U.S. senator and former secretary of State in dismissive, gender-freighted terms plays straight into the Clinton campaign’s hopes of picking up non-Democratic women in November.

At her victory rally on Tuesday, Clinton explicitly made a play for Democrats, independents and “thoughtful” Republicans as she brushed back against an earlier Trump broadside.

“The other day, Mr. Trump accused me of playing the “woman card,’” Clinton declared. “Well, if fighting for women’s healthcare and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in!”

Gender insults are nothing new for candidate Clinton. During her 2008 run, young men in the audience chanted “iron my shirts” and cable pundits compared her to hectoring mothers and the deranged bunny-boiling character in the film “Fatal Attraction.” One entrepreneur sold the “Hillary nutcracker,” a plastic representation of Clinton with serrated blades lining her inner thighs.

Trump played on another stereotype, of women being too weak and soft to inhabit the White House — ironic, because in the same bout of criticism he cast Clinton as a warmonger. 

In her 2008 campaign, Clinton was reluctant to emphasize the historic nature of her effort to become the first woman president until it was nearly over. This time, she has been more overt, but most of the time her historic reach is most visible in that she is a candidate in a pantsuit and kitten heels, not a button-down and a tie.

It was the mere fact that she is a woman that seemed to set off Trump in recent days. Asked repeatedly in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Wednesday about how, exactly, Clinton has played “the woman’s card,” Trump had no meaningful response.

 “How do you call someone on being a woman?” Cuomo asked.

“You just tell them they're playing the woman's card,” Trump replied.

“But what does that mean exactly?” Cuomo said.

“Frankly, if she didn't she would do very poorly,” Trump said. “I know it because I think if she were a man and she was the way she is, she would get virtually no votes.”

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