By Lesley Clark McClatchy Washington Bureau
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Donald Trump's effort to attract women to his campaign faced a major stumbling block this week when Hillary Clinton brought former Miss Universe Alicia Machado into the conversation. This article takes a look at how some female voters who support Trump are interpreting the latest insults.
Jane Shriver doesn't get all the fuss over Donald Trump's derogatory remarks about women.
"You know what? He's not a politician," said Shriver, 78, standing in a steady drizzle outside a recycling plant here to get a glimpse of Trump's running mate, Mike Pence. "He speaks from his heart and he's honest and truthful. Is that so bad?"
Trump's latest crisis, a seeming inability to stop insulting a former Miss Universe for gaining weight, could cost him points among college-educated suburban women, a crucial voting bloc that remains deeply skeptical of him.
But interviews with more than a dozen women here who support the Republican presidential nominee suggest his base is unmoved by Trump's history of disparaging women.
Shriver blames the media, saying they're hyping a "nothing issue" in an attempt to take the focus off what she said is Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's malfeasance.
"We'll talk about what Donald Trump might have said 20 years ago, but we don't want to talk about how Hillary lies, how she destroys her emails," Shriver said. "Give me a break."
Even those who admit to an occasional cringe defend Trump.
"That's him. He's not PC and neither am I," said Mary Buckley, 60, who wore a button with Clinton's picture and the words
"Life's a Bitch, Don't Vote for One" on her purse.
"I might not personally agree with the things he says," Buckley said, "But he loves this country and he can improve this economy and keep us safe."
Buckley did wince at Trump's crack about former Republican rival Carly Fiorina. He was quoted in a Rolling Stone article as having said, "Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?" when Fiorina appeared on a television screen.
"He should not have said that. That was mean," Buckley said. "But what's the alternative? That liar? The woman who let people die in Benghazi?"
Neither Karla Dentler, 27, nor her mother, Eleanor Galletti, 46, who purchased "Women for Trump" buttons at a kiosk inside the recycling plant, were at all concerned as they watched Clinton this week in the first presidential debate accuse their candidate of calling women "pigs, slobs and dogs" over the years.
"I'm pretty sure women talk badly about other women all the time," said Dentler, who works in human resources.
She noted that it was Clinton who'd criticized Trump's supporters, labeling half of them as racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic or Islamaphobic.
"You don't hear Trump telling Hillary supporters that they're a basketful of 'deplorables,'" Dentler said. "He is welcoming all people, different races. He is for the people."
Galletti said she believed Trump had "probably said stupid things he regrets," but that it was part of his appeal.
"Maybe he should have held his tongue, but he has nothing to hide," she said. "He's all out there. He says what he says, and I appreciate that. He's more human."
A former police officer, Galletti noted that most of Trump's disparaging remarks had been made before he decided to enter politics. In 2012, for example, Trump tweeted that businesswoman Arianna Huffington was "unattractive both inside and out," adding that he understood why her husband had left her for a man.
At that point, Galletti contended: "He was an entertainer. It wasn't like he was president."
Susan Schlomann, who retired to Pennsylvania three years ago from Long Island, acknowledged Trump has, on occasion, "put his foot in his mouth." But, she added, "I don't care. He's not one of them. He's outside the box. I don't want business as usual for America."
She questioned how his penchant for remarking on women's looks would affect him as president.
"I don't like Rosie O'Donnell either. She is a pig," Schlomann said. "But that's got nothing to do with his ability to run the government."
She accused Clinton, who is running an ad that shows girls looking in a mirror with a voice-over of Trump insulting women, of a scheme to "play the sexist card" and distract voters: "She plays on sympathy and emotion. But c'mon, man up! Or woman up!"
Lillian Mitina, 78, said she was bothered by Trump's three marriages, "It seems when they get too old, he trades them in", but thought that the focus on his insults to women was a distraction.
"He really should not do that. I would hope he would be more diplomatic," Mitina said of Trump's remarks. "But I'm looking at Hillary and she is an evil person. I hope he changes America because we're heading down the wrong path."
Tina Shaffer, 54, a mail carrier, said she'd been impressed that Trump employed women in senior managerial roles in his companies and his cracks about women don't bother her "as long as he gets our border secure and our economy going."
Trump has suggested he will dredge up Bill Clinton's extramarital affairs in order to criticize Hillary Clinton, despite Republican worries that it could backfire on him. But Trump supporters are already eager to litigate the case for him.
"She's not treated women too well either," Shaffer said of Clinton. "What she did with her husband's ex-girlfriends? And she didn't have the guts to leave him, like I think she should have."
Sue Johnson, 43, a Windsor, Pa., nurse, said Hillary Clinton's offenses counted against her because they were done while she was in office.
"Hillary has a history of not saying very nice things about women either," Johnson said. "She has far more baggage in that department."
She cited a Trump campaign charge that the Clinton Foundation accepts contributions from countries such as Saudi Arabia that treat women poorly.
"You can say you're for women, but don't take money from countries that enslave them," Johnson said.
Trump's insults don't bother her, she said.
"If everyone had to be held to what they said 20 years ago, we would all be in trouble," she said. "It's the past. We want to move forward. What we care about is what you will do in the future."
And what man hasn't remarked on a woman's looks, asked Kelly Hammer, 36, a homemaker.
"If that's so important, then why did Bill Clinton get re-elected?" she said. "We've even seen pictures of Obama looking at some girl's keister. He's human. He's a man, and I really don't care." ___ DONALD TRUMP QUOTES ON PEOPLE'S APPEARANCES
September 2016. "I just don't believe she has a presidential look, and you need a presidential look." On Hillary Clinton, to ABC News in an interview.
September 2015. "Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president? I mean, she's a woman, and I'm not s'posedta say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?" On Carly Fiorina in a Rolling Stone magazine profile.
Aug. 7, 2015. "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever." On Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly after she questioned him in an August 2015 Republican debate about his history of derogatory comments about women.
2013. "Does she have a good body? No. Does she have a fat ass? Absolutely." On Kim Kardashian West in an interview with Howard Stern.
Aug. 28, 2012/ "Is unattractive Both Inside And Out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man _ he made a good decision." Trump tweet on businesswoman Arianna Huffington.
2008. "I've had sex with women that got fat, many times. Actually I'm attracted to women that are a little chunky ... 30 pounds, I could handle." On Stern's show.