By Kevin Ellis Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The "Women for Trump" event in Gastonia which will include 11 women all married to current or former members of congress was planned before the Trump/Access Hollywood political firestorm erupted on Friday.
Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C.
The release of a tape that caught Donald Trump bragging about predatory advances on women comes just days before a "Women for Trump" bus will roll into Gastonia.
Eleven women -- all married to current or former members of Congress from across the country -- will arrive in Gastonia at noon Monday in an effort to encourage women to support the Republican presidential nominee who was caught on tape making remarks in 2005 about how his celebrity status allowed him to grab female genitals.
"He's passed all points of any human decency," said Alyce Machak, chairwoman of the Gaston County Democratic Party.
But reaction from women in Gaston and Cleveland counties to Trump's remarks, and how they could influence women voters, appeared split down party lines.
"A lot of men have said stuff like that. He just got caught on tape," said Tanzy Wallace, vice president of Women Republicans of Cleveland County and a former Air Force captain.
"We've all made mistakes, but he came forth and acknowledged it and I really respect him for that," said Wallace, who said she changed her party affiliation from Democrat to unaffiliated after former President Bill Clinton was caught in an affair with a White House intern.
The "Women for Trump" event in Gastonia was planned before the political firestorm was sparked by the video obtained and released Friday by The Washington Post and NBC News. In the video, Trump, who was married to his current wife at the time, is heard describing attempts to have sex with a married woman. He also brags about women letting him kiss them and grab their genitals because he is famous.
"When you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything," Trump says in the video. He adds seconds later: "Grab them by the p--. You can do anything." He said of his impulse to kiss beautiful women: "I don't even wait."
Some Republican leaders across the nation disavowed Trump, leading Trump to insist he would "never" abandon his White House bid. Vice President Joe Biden accused Trump of a "sexual assault" in a tweet Saturday.
U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry, who represents Gaston and Cleveland counties, released the following statement: "These comments are repulsive and disrespectful and I was sickened reading them. No one, much less a candidate for president, should treat women this way." McHenry's office did not respond to follow-up questions. McHenry in the past has said he supports Trump's candidacy.
Retired Gaston County teacher Kathy Wilson grew up around eight brothers and said Trump's remarks did not phase her or lessen her support for Trump. She discounted his comments as "locker room talk," adding he was not a traditional politician who guarded their remarks.
"It's not that I like dirty talk, but it's nice to know he's at least a real man and not a wuss," Wilson said. "At least he likes women."
But Betsy Wells, a retired Cleveland County educator and current chairwoman of the 10th U.S. House District Democrats, worries about what Trump's remarks "project for our daughters and granddaughters."
"That's just not the way you want the president of the United States to talk and act toward women," Wells said. "I'm really scared this man might get to be president."
Susan Maxon, a Democratic challenger for the 109th N.C. House seat held by Dana Bumgardner, said she was not surprised to see the partisan split toward the reaction to Trump's remarks. People see and hear what they want to see and hear, she said.
"I think his comments from 11 years ago are completely disgusting," she said. "But it just shows a long-term pattern of treating women with contempt or a lack of respect for women."
Mary Anne Huggins, chairwoman of the Gaston County Republican Party, said she believed Monday's "Women for Trump" event would help show undecided female voters a different side of Trump. She declined to say whether she was shocked by Trump's remarks, but said she believes the release of the tape was meant to rattle Trump just before the second presidential debate Sunday night.
"We're working to make America great again and to make Gaston County great again," Huggins said.
Wells, a longtime Democrat and champion of women's rights issues, said she knows Republicans will try to deflect criticism of Trump by bringing up the former President Clinton and his past affairs.
"Let's face it; it's Hillary Clinton who's running for president," Wells said.