US Elections 2016: Final countdown

'Women for Trump' camp just cannot stand Clinton

Donald Trump supporters following a rally led by "Women for Trump".
Donald Trump supporters following a rally led by "Women for Trump". PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

ICARD (North Carolina) • If Mrs Hillary Clinton becomes the first female president of the United States, a lot of women will be upset at Granny's Country Kitchen.

They know her rival Donald Trump has said crude things about women. He may even have behaved like a lout. But when forced to weigh the Republican can- didate's behaviour against their disdain for Mrs Clinton, the women at Granny's say it is not even close.

"She couldn't care less about me," said Ms Brenda Vaughn, wearing a "Women for Trump" shirt.

Like most of the women here, Ms Vaughn, 62, came out on Wednesday to listen to wives of Republican congressmen, who are on a week-long barnstorming bus tour through this critical swing state.

And she was happy to disparage Mrs Clinton.

"When I see her, all I see is plastic - all fake. He might have said things people don't agree with, but he is real," said Ms Vaughn.

A growing gender gap is marking the 2016 campaign.

TRUMP'S SELF-SACRIFICE

I take all of these slings and arrows gladly for you. I take them for our movement so that we can have our country back.

MR DONALD TRUMP, at a rally, describing himself as a victim of an attack by the political establishment.

Not since CBS News exit polls were first taken in 1972 has there been such a divide in how men and women view candidates. Polls show that more women are abandoning Mr Trump, while men are still more likely to support him than Mrs Clinton.

After the Washington Post released a video last Friday showing Mr Trump making vulgar comments about women and bragging of his ability to force himself on them sexually as he was a "star", Mrs Clinton's advantage among women jumped, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC survey.

CALLS FOR COMMON DECENCY

It doesn't matter what party you belong to... no woman deserves to be treated this way. No one deserves this kind of abuse.

US FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA, denouncing Mr Trump after news reports of his lewd behaviour.

Overall, the survey showed Mrs Clinton had an 11-point lead, 46 per cent to 35 per cent. But among women, her lead grew from 12 points in mid-September to a remarkable 21 points this month.

Perhaps more unexpected than women abandoning Mr Trump are those still enthusiastically supporting him. Judging by conversations with those leading the "Women for Trump" bus tour, and those it is attracting, the female Trump support has little to do with the man himself.

Many of the women are steadfast advocates of traditional Republican policies of low taxes and small government, and many simply cannot stomach Mrs Clinton. They call her "unrelatable", "corrupt" and a "machine" angling for the presidency for what they said feels like a lifetime. Many strongly disagree with her policy positions, especially her support of abortion rights.

Many also said they do not like things about Mr Trump. But they have been forced to disregard his less savoury attributes and focus on issues important to them, such as Mr Trump's promise of tighter immigration controls.

"I am voting on America's future, not on Trump's past," said Mrs Carolyn Yoho, wife of Republican congressman Ted Yoho.

Mrs Yoho said she has heard professional men speaking "very inappropriately and it doesn't make them incompetent". Furthermore, she noted that "huge" numbers of women bought Fifty Shades Of Grey, the best-selling erotic novel that centred on bondage and rough sex. "Women can be just as inappropriate," she said.

Many women interviewed said they are insulted when people tell them they should vote to elect the first female president. In fact, they are energised to campaign against Mrs Clinton because they dislike her so much.

Ms Alison Lloyd, a cashier at Granny's, said she is an independent who last voted for President Barack Obama. She is still undecided and getting more confused.

To her, it is so puzzling that she finds herself questioning if there is not more to Mr Trump than she realises, because despite having done so many offensive things, his support still holds.

"Is there something about this man that I am not getting?" she asked.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2016, with the headline ''Women for Trump' camp just cannot stand Clinton'. Print Edition | Subscribe