“Women see this and they’ve all been on the receiving end at some point in their lives,” said Cecile Richards, the former president of Planned Parenthood and a founder of Supermajority, a new women’s advocacy group. “When you actually poll women who did vote for him, they did it with enormous hesitation because of his bullying attitude towards women and his vulgar attitudes.”
Women who work for Mr. Trump have long defended the president’s treatment of women by noting that he is an equal opportunity counterpuncher, someone whose gut reaction to being insulted by anyone is to respond in kind. And the women closest to him, like his daughter Ivanka Trump or his former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, now the White House counselor, have often pointed to their own experiences when pressed on Mr. Trump’s history of sexist attacks.
“I speak for many women who have and do work for him,” Ms. Conway said on Monday. “We are on equal footing with our male colleagues, even though some of those male colleagues have not always agreed. I feel empowered, respected and engaged.”
As for Mr. Trump’s recent attacks on women, Ms. Conway said the president responded when under attack “without regard to the immutable characteristics that seem to obsess so many who should otherwise put their full force and energy into Covid-19.”
Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, added that “women rightfully fought for equal treatment for years, and there should not be special rules applied to what constitutes equal treatment.” She noted that she found it “funny how I never get these inquiries from men.”
In fact, the insults are hardly specific to gender. In the briefing room earlier this month, the president also pounced on Peter Alexander, a correspondent for NBC News, calling him a “terrible reporter,” and accusing him of asking a “nasty question” when Mr. Alexander asked the president to deliver his message to a fearful country. He has described Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington as a “nasty person” and a “snake” for criticizing the administration’s response to the virus.
But his attacks on women even as the country together faces a pandemic have stood out, in part because they recall his dismissal of his 2016 Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, as a “nasty woman,” and of many powerful women who have challenged him since.