Some Iowa GOP women on Trump: ‘I’m over him’ – USA TODAY
DES MOINES, Iowa — Two weeks ago, Iowa Poll respondent Suzanne Sawyer was explaining why she was happy Donald Trump is in the presidential race: He brings up topics she cares about, she said.
Now she says flatly: “I’m over him.”
Sawyer, a 53-year-old Fort Dodge resident who describes herself as a very conservative Tea Party supporter, is among the Iowa Republicans who say they’re fed up with Trump because of what they view as his derogatory remarks about women.
The GOP women expressing concerns about Trump’s remarks include Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, the top female elected officials in Iowa, which kicks off voting for the presidency.
“I personally find it unacceptable,” Reynolds told The Des Moines Register. “It’s not appropriate in politics, it’s not appropriate in business, and it’s not appropriate anywhere.”
Trump, front-runner in the late August Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll, has been making headlines for months about what many see as his tendency to make fat-pig-bimbo-type comments. One of his latest riffs was to mock rival presidential candidate Carly Fiorina for her physical appearance. “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?” he told Rolling Stone magazine.
Another example: Trump’s innuendo last month that Fox News host Megyn Kelly questioned him about his treatment of women because she was menstruating.
Yet poll ratings in Iowa and nationally have continued to climb for Trump, who gained fame as a businessman, author and star of The Apprentice reality TV show.
Ernst, during a media conference call on Thursday, said: “I would like to think our presidential candidates would at least respect other people, whether male or female.”
She said she didn’t want to single out Trump for criticism, but added: “If there’s not a certain level of respect, how do we know that people are going to come to the table and work together?”
Former state Rep. Renee Schulte, who backs former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, said she thinks women who support Trump will “start looking around” now, suggesting that his sexism might be the gravitational force that pulls his soaring candidacy back to Earth.
“How can we have a leader who discounts over half the population? That is absurd,” Schulte said.
“It’s appalling the way he treats women,” she said. “The worst part about it is he doesn’t realize it’s wrong. You’ve got years of these types of statements.”
The Trump campaign did not respond to emails seeking comment.
Sawyer said she and her husband had been telling each other that as soon as Trump came anywhere near their town, they’d go see him to witness “the energy and positive message.”
“Now, no interest,” Sawyer said. “It was the Carly Fiorina comment. Not that it was that horrible, because he’s said other more horrible things, but I was like, ‘OK, this is third-grade.’ His social skills are just not presidential.”
Reynolds criticized Trump’s comments as feeding the “phony narrative” spun by Democrats about a GOP war on women. That narrative isn’t playing out among top Iowa elected officials, where women have stepped into leadership as U.S. senator, Iowa House speaker, state auditor, 14 of the state department head jobs and other roles, she said.
Reynolds said other Republican candidates are making a case for the White House by spelling out a vision for real solutions.
“I think that’s what Trump needs to do and get off the attacks on people,” she said.
Several Republican women who participated in the Aug. 23-27 Iowa Poll who were considering voting for Trump in the Feb. 1 caucuses have now changed their minds, they told a Register reporter who checked in with them again last week.
Rosalie Kendall, who heads the Burlington Tea Party Patriots, said she had been floating between Trump, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, whom she supported in the 2012 Iowa caucuses.
But she’s ruled out Trump, she told the Register. The way Trump belittles women and regularly calls people “stupid” quickly grew tiresome, she said.
“Just because he’s Trump doesn’t give him the right to do that. It only makes him look foolish, turning people off — like me,” said Kendall, a 78-year-old retired assembly line worker. “He’s no better than anybody in God’s eyes. Just because he’s got money, that doesn’t make him better than anybody else.”
Kendall said Trump was effective at “waking people up,” but now she hopes Iowa conservatives vote for someone else.
It’s not just Iowans who are questioning whether Trump’s remarks are unpresidential, said Jennifer Horn, chairwoman of the Republican Party in New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary in the presidential nominating contest, eight days after the Iowa caucuses.
“We are well past the days where you can be disrespectful of women and just call it a joke,” Horn told the Register. “These are not the comments of a strong candidate. These are the comments of a weak candidate.”
Republicans in Iowa disagree on whether the anti-women meme in the summer of Trump will lead to the fall of Trump.
Iowa Poll respondent Jerry Odean, a retired insurance administrator from Davenport, said: “All of his comments — it’s Donald being Donald. I don’t know that Donald thinks about what he says.”
Odean said Trump isn’t one of his top two choices at this point, but he suspects other caucusgoers will still gravitate toward him.
“These things are very superficial,” said Odean, who is 70. “I think there’s a lot of deeper issues that need to be resolved. This country needs somebody that’s strong. Period. We’re getting our butts kicked all over the world, and people are sick of it.”
But Christian conservative poll participant Dorothy Vos thinks Trump’s attitude toward women should be disqualifying.
“He just has no respect for anybody of the opposite sex. Unless you’re pretty and smart and have a beautiful figure,” said Vos, a 79-year-old retired nurse and a farmer’s wife from Oskaloosa.
Fiorina backer Kellie Paschke, an Iowa lawyer who lives in Waukee, said she’d expect to hear this sort of smash-mouth talk from boys in a locker room, not a billionaire who wants to be president.
“We all have thick skin. We can take it. But it’s starting to get offensive,” said Paschke, who is 40. “The fact that he backtracks every time and says, ‘That’s not what I meant.’ Baloney. Does he think we’re stupid?”