‘Disrespect’ could hurt election bid
US Republican Donald Trump has dismissed his vulgar sexual comments about women that surfaced on a video as “ locker room talk”, but his explanation did little to soothe the queasiness of Esther Rosser, a 71-year old grandmother from Virginia. “ I know he apologised, and all you can do is apologise, but he could have said more,” Rosser said.
She has voted Republican her whole life but decided this weekend that she would support Trump’s rival for president, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“He disrespected us,” she said of Trump, referring to women in general.
Rosser’s misgivings echoed many of the sentiments expressed by more than two dozen women voters interviewed who, as recently as last month, had not decided whether they would support Trump or Clinton in the November 8 US election.
In the informal survey conducted by phone the day after Sunday’s presidential debate, many women said they were appalled by the 2005 video in which Trump bragged of kissing and groping women without consent.
Several of the voters also said they disliked the Republican presidential candidate’s strategy of highlighting the infidelities of Hillary Clinton’s husband, Bill Clinton, in an effort to defend his own conduct, or shift attention away from it.
“I didn’t like the fact that he was attacking Hillary on things her husband did,” Connie Sasso, a 66-year-old retiree from Missouri, said.
“It’s wrong – it’s just wrong.”
In the second presidential debate with Clinton in St Louis, Missouri, on Sunday, Trump said he was embarrassed by the video, but dismissed his comments as “locker room talk.”
He also accused Hillary Clinton of attacking women who had alleged sexual misconduct by her husband, who was president from 1993 to 2001.
Trump’s criticism of Bill Clinton’s infidelities drew applause from supporters at a rally he held in Pennsylvania on Monday.
But Trump, whose core voters are overwhelmingly male, has struggled to appeal to women, who made up 53% of the US electorate in the 2012 election.
If Trump is unable to narrow the gender gap, he will be unable to overcome Clinton’s lead in the polls.
“I can’t with good conscience vote for someone with that kind of mind-set,” Leigh-Ann Chase, a 27-year-old nursing student from Lakeland, Florida, said.
Chase, a registered Republican, said she was now backing Clinton. Patsy Bennewise, 58, of North Little Rock, Arkansas, never voted for Clinton’s husband during the nearly 10 years he washer state’s governor.
But her streak of never voting for a Clinton is set to end next month when she said she will cast her ballot for the Democratic candidate.
She said of Trump: “He’s turned the presidential election into a mockery.”
Not all undecided women voters interviewed came out against Trump.
Amy Fryzelka, a 37-year-old tutor from Kansas City, Missouri, said she thought Trump’s comments were horrible but she believed his personal life would not influence how he would govern.
She said she was leaning toward the Republican candidate because she believed Clinton was too deceptive.
“I’d prefer not to vote for either of them, really, ” Fryzelka said.
For Rosser, the Virginia grandmother, the decision to cast her vote for Clinton had come when her 14-year-old granddaughter asked her to explain why Trump would say the things he said in the video, she said.