Donald Trump has used the words “slob,” “fat pig” and “dog” to describe women who have challenged him. Last week, a 2005 video emerged in which he boasts that his stardom allows him to grope women at will.
In February, former first lady Barbara Bush said she didn’t understand how women could vote for the 70-year-old real estate mogul.
But the Republican presidential candidate has lots of female supporters and even after the firestorm over his lewd remarks, they are not abandoning him with a month to go before Election Day.
“We’re not voting to find the best husband. We’re looking for a strong leader,” said 63-year-old Christina Lachimia who, like Trump, works in the real estate industry.
“It doesn’t make me not want to vote for him.”
Lachimia was one of several members of the Santa Monica chapter of the National Federation of Republican Women who gathered Sunday to watch the second debate between Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
All those present thought the 70-year-old Trump delivered a punishing blow to the former secretary of state, bouncing back from a weekend of controversy that sent fed-up Republican lawmakers fleeing from his campaign.
“I think he won the debate. He definitively stopped the bleeding,” said Linda Grossman, 60, at a home in Santa Monica, a tony suburb of Los Angeles, where the viewing party took place.
– ‘She’s lying!’ –
For Kari Czer, 65, Trump showed drastic improvement from his performance in the first televised debate between the candidates, when he was “pulling punches.”
“This time, he realized she’s going for the jugular,” Czer told AFP.
About 20 members of the Santa Monica Republican club gathered to watch Sunday’s town hall-style debate — one of the ugliest in recent US political history, full of personal attacks.
With plenty of pizza, soft drinks and wine on hand, the women — and a few men — sat in three rows of chairs, watching the proceedings on a giant flat-screen television.
They applauded with gusto and shouted “Yes!” when Trump fired salvos at Clinton, and booed her numerous times, along with cries of “She’s lying!” and “Shut up!”
In Santa Monica, which is largely Democratic as is the state of California, the so-called “Trumpettes” admit they are in the minority.
But far from defecting from Team Trump, as many top-ranked Republicans did as the video scandal swirled, they are standing by their man.
“His bad boy behavior will not jeopardize the wellbeing of my grandchildren, but her decisions could,” said Donna Block, a 60-year-old optician. “His priorities are the same as mine.”
Lachimia called the video a “distraction.”
In the recording, Trump says, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab them by the pussy’.”
– Tapegate a ‘joke’ –
“To me, they are just digging up stuff from years ago,” said Lachimia. “It doesn’t make me not want to vote for him.”
When asked about Trump bringing three women who have accused former president Bill Clinton of sexual harassment and even rape to the debate, Lachimia said: “He’s showing the hypocrisy.”
Block agreed, calling the controversy over Trump’s crude remarks a “joke” and noting her surprise over “the fact that everyone is acting so shocked.”
“I don’t think it’s as much of a problem as turning a blind eye to what’s happening in the Middle East or signing deals that don’t benefit America,” she added.
– ‘They’re not refugees’ –
The woman gathered for debate night also reject other criticisms of Trump’s anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric, and insist that many migrants entering the country are not legitimate refugees but violent extremists.
“They’re not refugees. You know they are not from Syria,” said Rohini De Silva, a Sri Lanka-born Christian woman.
“Muslims — why do they come to the US or to the EU? Why don’t they go to Saudi Arabia?”
De Silva wrote a book in which she claims that President Barack Obama is a Muslim — a claim also believed by many other Republicans — and that Islam is “a political-military-religious ideology that seeks to conquer America, just as it has conquered Europe.”
Czer, an evangelical Christian, admitted she did not agree with Trump on “many things,” including the fact that he is not more “god-fearing.”
But she said she was sure of one thing: “I think he will win because he’s been chosen to save America.”