WASHINGTON – Suffice it to say that “Horseface” and porn actress Stormy Daniels aren’t what Republicans want to talk about three weeks from the midterm elections — or ever. A record number of women are running, most of them Democrats, in the first balloting of the #MeToo era.
No matter. President Donald Trump this week added “Horseface” to a long list of unflattering references to women, including: Fat, ugly, disgusting, “that dog,” ”a 10,” ”no longer a 10,” a slob, “Miss Piggy,” ”Miss Housekeeping,” wacky and crazy.
A look at how Trump’s approach is playing out as Republicans defend their House and Senate majorities:
Trump’s tweet about Daniels came after a federal judge dismissed the adult film actress’ defamation lawsuit against the president.
Trump tweeted: “Great, now I can go after Horseface and her 3rd rate lawyer.” He added, “She knows nothing about me, a total con!”
That appeared to be a reference to Daniels’ detailed and unflattering description of Trump, with whom she says she engaged in an affair in 2006, from her recent book. (He’s denied that.)
“Game on, Tiny,” Daniels tweeted back Tuesday.
REPUBLICANS WISH HE WOULDN’T
Being asked to “respond” to Trump’s words is one of the least-favourite pastimes of members of his party. Asked about “horseface,” they tried to stay as bland as possible.
“There’s no place for that kind of language,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan on CBS “This Morning,” a little over two months away from leaving Congress at the end of the year. “He should not have said that.”
“I wish the president hadn’t done it,” said Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said on CNN. “I’ve made my feelings known, to the president, that tweeting a little less wouldn’t cause brain damage. I mean you don’t have to express every one of your thoughts.”
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., on CBS called the president’s “horseface” tweet “unacceptable.”
“I disagree with the president’s rhetoric numerous times with regard to how he addresses women,” she said.
By now, Trump’s infamous talk about women is embedded in American political lore.
But through the campaign and his presidency, there’s been little evidence that Trump’s habit has done damage among his most passionate supporters. One question in the 2018 midterms is whether Democratic voters will be particularly likely to cast ballots this year.
In Gallup’s latest tracking poll, 34 per cent of women say they approve of Trump, which is about where it’s been throughout his presidency. Republican women are still overwhelmingly likely to support him.
Women are typically far more likely than men to support Democratic candidates, and this year is no exception. In a recent poll by the Washington Post and ABC News, 59 per cent of women said they would be voting for Democratic House candidates, while just 46 per cent of men said the same.
On the turnout question, the Post/ABC poll found that women under 40 were significantly more likely than they were in 2014 to say they were certain to vote.
WHAT TRUMP SAYS
In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press a few hours after the “horseface” tweet, Trump was asked whether it is appropriate to insult a woman’s appearance.
“You can take it any way you want,” he replied.
The president, who has a packed schedule of rallies lately for Republican candidates, did refuse to take any blame if Republicans lose control of Congress.
“No, I think I’m helping people,” he said in the AP interview.
WHAT WOMEN CLOSE TO TRUMP SAY
As the controversy over Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation raged, Trump counsellor Kellyanne Conway bristled at the backlash she gets for working for Trump, who is accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women — all liars, he says.
Conway told CNN that she, too, is a victim of sexual assault.
“I work for President Trump because he’s so good to the women who work for him,” Conway said.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Here’s a far-from-complete selection of Trump’s descriptions of women who bother him:
—Trump unloaded on former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, praising White House Chief of Staff John Kelly “for quickly firing that dog!”
—Trump mocked GOP rival Carly Fiorina’s appearance. “Look at that face,” he said of Fiorina, according to Rolling Stone in 2015. “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”
—Trump said 1996 Miss Universe Alicia Machado had gained a “massive amount of weight and it was a real problem.” Trump did not deny Machado’s charge that Trump called her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping.”
Associated Press Polling Editor Emily Swanson contributed to this report.
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