The GOP’s chaos candidate threw a lot against the wall this week — tax cut flip-flops, kooky talk about the debt, rejecting the need to unite the party, then declaring he would unite the party and more. But it was Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOmar, Muslim Democrats decry Islamophobia amid death threats On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Trump cheers CNN's Cuomo suspension MORE’s attacks against likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCountering the ongoing Republican delusion Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Poll: Democracy is under attack, and more violence may be the future MORE that said the most about the coming fight — one of his assaults was devastating, while the other, in Trumpian terms, was “a total disaster.”
On Tuesday the Trump campaign released a brutal video with family members of those who died in the 2012 Benghazi attack saying the former secretary of State lied to them by blaming the attacks on protests sparked by an online video, a claim that is false. It closes with Clinton cackling wildly during her congressional testimony about the attacks last October.
This goes to the heart of Clinton’s weakness — that a majority of Americans in both parties see her as dishonest.
Between the Benghazi attack and an FBI investigation into Clinton’s decision to house government records on a secret, private server and potentially even delete some of them, Trump has much to mine in order to depress turnout for Clinton.
But Trump’s other line of attack, that Clinton mistreated women who had affairs with her husband, former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonMaxwell accuser testifies the British socialite was present when Epstein abuse occurred Epstein pilot testifies Maxwell was 'number two' in operation Federal judge changes his mind about stepping down, eliminating vacancy for Biden to fill MORE, is politically stupid.
“She was an unbelievably nasty, mean enabler, and what she did to a lot of these women is disgraceful,” Trump said to enthusiastic applause. But while the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s supporters love the enabler charge against Clinton, the criticism isn’t likely to convince persuadable voters who aren’t yet sold on Trump to come on board.
Indeed, if a woman doesn’t surface to describe some mistreatment by Hillary Clinton after an affair with Bill Clinton, the criticism could create sympathy for the former first lady where there was none, while further tanking Trump’s approval with women.
Trump’s negatives poll between 63 percent and 70 percent with most women, particularly with college-educated women, and are even over 50 percent with women who are noncollege white voters, the base of Trump’s support. Clinton will work to shore that up not only with reminders of his statements about women but with proposals like one to limit the cost of childcare to no more than 10 percent of one’s income.
Trump has amassed a potent record of misogynistic and sexist statements. The Clinton campaign will not only tout quotes from the treasure trove the real estate mogul left in the archives of “The Howard Stern Show,” it won’t even have to repackage the ad using Trump’s quotes about women as “fat pigs,” “dogs” and “slobs” released by the anti-Trump GOP super-PAC “Make America Awesome” back in March.
Trump excuses his past degradation of women this way: “I never anticipated running for public office or being a politician, so I could have fun with Howard on the radio and everyone would love it. People do love it,” sounding like he still loves it, too. An admitted adulterer, Trump could find his views on marriage and child-rearing — he said in 1988 he and his ex-wife, Ivana, didn’t argue because “she does exactly as I tell her to do,” and that he doesn’t change diapers because men who do are “trying to be like the woman” — will likely turn off multitudes of women in both parties, particularly young ones, who don’t equate the job of physically bearing children with mandatory poop duty.
To double down, Trump is also stoking male resentment toward women, saying this week of men, “We’re petrified to speak to women anymore; we may raise our voice,” adding, “You know what? The women get it better than we do, folks.”
Clinton has problems with male voters, and female voters, too. Trump can exploit those without antagonizing more women in the process. If he wants to win, that is.
Stoddard is an associate editor of The Hill.