CLEVELAND ― Donald Trump has called women “dogs,” “slobs,” “fat pigs,” and “disgusting animals.” But female delegates at the Republican National Convention are for the most part learning to forgive their controversial candidate and accept his misogynistic streak.
“I’ve said things like that about guys ― ‘Oh, he’s short, or look at his little feet.’ But [Trump is] just on the surface about it, and that’s the refreshing part for me, is that he can speak his mind, because we’ve been so inhibited,” Mary Susan, a 52-year-old delegate from Minneapolis told The Huffington Post in an interview at the convention. “Do I think that some of the things he said are hurtful? Maybe, yeah. But that’s the beauty of our First Amendment. We should be able to say things no matter what.”
Susan, a single mother of three, said Trump has given her confidence to speak up about political issues. “I think that as a woman, I’ve always felt my First Amendment rights have been inhibited,” she said. “He’s made it OK for people like me, Middle America, single moms, to speak their minds. He’s done more for me personally than the feminist movement.”
For a presidential nominee, Trump has a shocking history of sexist comments toward women. On his reality TV show, “Celebrity Apprentice,” he once told a female contestant, “Must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees.” He said women should face some kind of “punishment” for choosing abortion if it were to become illegal. And when Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly asked him about his attitude toward women, he said later that she must have had “blood coming out of her wherever.”
But those comments weren’t enough to alienate Sandye Kading, a Republican delegate from South Dakota who warmed up to Trump after he won the requisite 1,237 delegates to be nominated.
“You brought up Megyn Kelly,” Kading told HuffPost. “She’s gotten over it, and I think everybody else should too.”
“I’m a woman with a loose mouth so I get myself in trouble,”said Tila Hubrecht, an alternate delegate from Missouri. “If you’re in politics, you better have some tough skin, and if not, you best be getting yourself out. Everybody has their strengths. There’s not going to be any one candidate you’re going to find that’s perfect.”
Of course, not all Republican women at the convention support Trump. Susan Valentine, a longtime GOP activist from northern Virginia, said she will not vote for any presidential candidate this year. She is putting all her hopes in House and Senate races. “We have lots of other candidates that we need to protect from being dragged down by Donald Trump,” she said.
Valentine said “everything” about Trump bothers her. She is offended by comments he’s made about women, and as a passionate anti-abortion advocate, she is turned off by his waffling on the issue. Even Trump choosing Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), a national leader in the fight against reproductive rights, for a running mate did not sway Valentine.
“To be honest, the way that Donald Trump has so far treated Mike Pence ― I’m sort of feeling sorry for Mike Pence,” she said. “But it was a courageous thing for him to do to accept the nomination. If you’re on a ticket with Donald Trump, it’s going to be unpredictable.”
Other women find it endearing that Trump is unpredictable and never says the right thing.
“We call him our little orange buffoon that we love,” Susan said.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.