ST. PAUL, Minn. ― President Donald Trump’s Wednesday featured explanations for his failure to protect Kurdish allies in Syria, new questions about an impeachment inquiry centered on his dealings with Ukraine and, to cap it off, fresh accusations of sexual misconduct.
A thousand miles west of Washington, though, none of that seemed to matter.
“The president has empowered women like no other,” said Second Lady Karen Pence, explaining that she understood a lot of women might be “on the fence” about voting for Trump next year. “He cares about meeting them where it counts: in their pocketbooks…. Look at the job rate for women. You have to vote for Donald Trump.”
The wife of Vice President Mike Pence was headlining a “Women for Trump” discussion with Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump and Trump campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany on the eve of the president’s planned Minneapolis rally Thursday.
Trump in his 2½ years in office has been bleeding support from women voters – particularly suburban, college-educated women who have historically favored Republicans. Wednesday’s event was among a series his campaign is planning to try to reverse the trend.
Nancy Vergin, 66, was among the 250 or so women who came out to hear the trio at a meeting room at a train and bus depot in St. Paul.
“Our president has been exemplary,” she said, sporting a Trump T-shirt, Trump pendant, Trump earrings and a red Trump safety vest adorned with both the “Make America Great Again” slogan of 2016 and the “Keep America Great” one for 2020. “I can’t believe how much he has accomplished.”
Trump’s rally Thursday will be his first since the House began its impeachment inquiry after the Ukraine scandal broke, which revealed that the president had asked a foreign leader to investigate his top political rival. And it comes as a new book reportedly adds dozens of names to the list of women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct.
His campaign has been looking for states it might win in 2020 that failed to swing his way in 2016, particularly in the event Trump loses Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, three states that gave him the presidency with a combined 77,744-vote margin.
Minnesota, New Hampshire and Nevada top that list, although his campaign officials claim that New Mexico is also a possibility.
Karen Pence told the St. Paul audience that they should remind friends and neighbors who were uneasy about supporting Trump because of his language and behavior that he treats his daughter Ivanka well. “The respect he has for his daughter, it’s amazing,” Pence said.
And Lara Trump said their best argument was probably what the president’s tenure has already done for women. “If you think that things are going better for you than they were, that’s all you need to know.”
A dozen miles away on the opposite side of the Mississippi River, Lindsay Nelson is precisely the sort of woman the Trump campaign is hoping to win over.
The 30-year-old IT consultant was walking past the Target Center arena after work Wednesday and not planning to attend Trump’s rally there Thursday. She was, however, planning to vote for Trump after not having voted at all in 2016.
“I think the changes in the economy have been really good,” she said, adding that she’s not bothered by Trump’s controversial words and deeds. “I think it’s just a game. It’s just a gimmick.”
Nelson conceded, though, that she may be an anomaly, at least in her social circle. “Most of the women I know don’t think the way I do.”
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