By David Cruz
It was one of the seminal moments of the presidential campaign. Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly calling out Donald Trump on his way with women. Since then, the questions have dogged the presumed-Republican presidential nominee. He called a breastfeeding lawyer disgusting and says Hillary Clinton is playing the “woman card”. Taken together, they have pushed Trump’s negative numbers among women voters to as high as 70 percent in some polls. GOP matriarch Barbara Bush summed up the Trump gender gap recently.
“I don’t understand why people are for him. I’m a woman, and I’m not crazy about what he says about women,” she told CNN.
One of Trump’s key advisors is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. But support for Trump among state Republicans has been soft, when compared to support of Mitt Romney. Among GOP women, that support has been even softer. We asked some of the state’s Republican female elected officials whether they would be supporting Trump in the fall.
“I’m hoping to be able to,” said Republican Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi. “Have I had some apprehensions throughout this campaign? Yes, and I think most women who are Republicans have as well. I’m cautiously optimistic that, in light of some of the shakeups in his campaign, that we’re going to start to hear more concise, well thought out, reasoned policy, as opposed to just sound bites in order to get headlines.”
Schepisi was among a small group of GOP women who would even discuss the subject, much less on camera. Under Christie’s leadership the state party has mostly let him call the tune, and even in his waning days in office, the governor has kept a tight grip. One lawmaker said she hadn’t been pressured to back Trump but was advised to keep any objections to herself. Republican Assemblywoman Maria Rodriguez-Gregg had no misgivings about where she’s coming from.
“It is very difficult,” she said. “I want to support somebody from the party for the presidency but it has to be someone that represents the Republican Party’s initial principles, and right now, he doesn’t.”
Sen. Jen Beck has shown an independent streak, having called on Christie to step down in the heat of the primary season and voted to override a Christie vetoes. She likewise bucks Christie on Trump.
“I don’t care what party you are, your first job is to do the best for the people you represent. I feel I would be doing a disservice to those I represent by getting behind Donald Trump,” she said in a statement.
Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg is no Christie fan, or Trump fan. She’s one of the most liberal lawmakers in the state and a feminist icon to many. She told us she feels for her fellow female pols.
“There is no doubt that they’re going to have to really twist themselves into the proverbial pretzel to be able to figure out how they’re going to support Donald Trump,” she said.
Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno is said to have her reservations about Trump but even more reservations about Clinton. Officially, though, she — like most of the state’s female GOP leaders when asked about Trump — had “no comment”, which you will have to interpret for yourself.