GOP women frus­trated by Trump on is­sue of abuse

Pres­i­dent mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult to win fe­male vot­ers.

Dayton Daily News - - NATION & WORLD - By Lau­rie Kell­man and Steve Peo­ples


White House’s han­dling of abuse charges against men in its midst is frus­trat­ing prom­i­nent Repub­li­can women as the party’s years­long strug­gle to at­tract fe­male vot­ers stretches into the 2018 midterm elec­tions.

“It’s the mixed sig­nals. They’ve just got to be stronger, more con­sis­tent, clearer in the mes­sage” to women, Sen. Shel­ley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said Tues­day. “It’s dif­fi­cult be­ing a Repub­li­can woman to have to fight through that all the time.”

The thrice-mar­ried Trump added a new chap­ter to his dif­fi­cult his­tory with fe­male vot­ers in the past week by re­fus­ing to of­fer pub­lic words of sup­port to the ex-wives of two se­nior pres­i­den­tial aides. Rob Porter, the pres­i­dent’s staff sec­re­tary, re­signed last week af­ter ex-wives Col­bie Hold­er­ness and Jen­nifer Wil­loughby came for­ward with al­le­ga­tions of abuse. Dai­ pub­lished pho­tos of Hold­er­ness with a black eye. Porter de­nied harm­ing ei­ther of them.

A sec­ond White House of­fi­cial, Trump speech­writer David Sorensen, left the White House last Fri­day af­ter his ex-wife, Jes­sica Cor­bett, de­scribed phys­i­cal abuse that in­cluded be­ing thrown into a wall and burned by a ci­garette. He too de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

But Trump has had only good things to say about Porter and voiced sym­pa­thy for him. The pres­i­dent has re­fused to ex­press sup­port for the women in­volved or per­son­ally con­demn do­mes­tic abuse.

“Peo­ples lives are be­ing shat­tered and de­stroyed by a mere al­le­ga­tion. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new,” Trump said in a tweet Satur­day. “There is no re­cov­ery for some­one falsely ac­cused - life and ca­reer are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

But House Repub­li­cans are in­ves­ti­gat­ing how Porter was al­lowed to work at the White House un­der an in­terim se­cu­rity clear­ance de­spite the abuse al­le­ga­tions. Ques­tions about Trump’s ap­proach sparked ex­as­per­a­tion.

“C’mon, clearly we all should be con­demn­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told re­porters, rolling his eyes. “And if a per­son who com­mits do­mes­tic vi­o­lence gets in the govern­ment then there’s a break­down in the sys­tem” that needs to be ad­dressed.

“I’m ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed in this sit­u­a­tion. Abuse is never OK,” Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said on CNN Tues­day.

The pres­i­dent still ham­mers at his van­quished 2016 ri­val, Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton, whom he once threat­ened to throw in prison. His sup­port among Repub­li­cans wa­vered just be­fore Election Day with the re­lease of an “Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood” record­ing in which Trump can be heard brag­ging about grab­bing women by their gen­i­tals. And more than a dozen women have ac­cused Trump of ha­rass­ing or as­sault­ing them. Trump called them liars and said he’d sue them — though that hasn’t hap­pened.

The White House says Amer­i­cans is­sued their ver­dict on all of that when they elected Trump. Some 42 per­cent of women voted for Trump, while 56 per­cent went for Clin­ton. That’s sim­i­lar to the gen­der gap for Bill Clin­ton in 1996 and Barack Obama in 2012. Among reg­is­tered vot­ers, more than half of women — 54 per­cent — iden­tify as Democrats or lean Demo­cratic, com­pared with 38 per­cent who say they align with Repub­li­cans, ac­cord­ing to 2016 Pew Re­search Cen­ter statis­tics.

But win­ning over women has long been an up­hill bat­tle for the GOP, and there are signs in re­cent polling that Trump is mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult.

Most re­cent sur­veys have shown Democrats run­ning ahead in na­tional pref­er­ence polls for Congress. One sur­vey this month by Marist Col­lege showed Democrats lead­ing by 21 per­cent­age points among women. An­other by Mon­mouth Univer­sity re­leased Jan. 31 showed Democrats up by 13 per­cent­age points among fe­male vot­ers. In both polls, about 6 in 10 women dis­ap­proved of Trump.

Some GOP ac­tivists said Trump’s ap­proach risks alien­at­ing mod­er­ate Repub­li­can women.

“The party and party lead­er­ship has had so many op­por­tu­ni­ties to try to right its wrongs, and Don­ald Trump’s wrongs, with women, to take a stand ... and they haven’t,” said Meghan Mil­loy, co-founder of Repub­li­can Women for Progress, pre­vi­ously called Repub­li­cans for Hil­lary. The GOP, she said, “is go­ing to start los­ing women.”

Jen­nifer Horn, for­mer New Hamp­shire Repub­li­can chair­woman, added, “Ev­ery sin­gle time the pres­i­dent tries to ex­cuse a man who has as­saulted women, it makes it harder and harder for our can­di­dates to run cred­i­ble cam­paigns.”

Sen. Shelly Moore Sen. Joni Ernst

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