Some Republican women react to the Trump tape with anger — some with a shrug

“Sometimes men are indeed pigs...doesn’t make it right but we know it goes on," said Kathryn Serkes, the co-founder of Women Vote Trump, in response to leaked audio of Trump from 2005.
October 8, 2016, 6:20pm
Tannen Maury

The toxic recording from 2005 of Donald Trump boasting about his ability to sexually assault women has prompted an emotional, albeit mixed, reaction from various corners of the Republican Party.

Some Republican women who heard the GOP presidential nominee boasting in the leaked tape about grabbing women "by the pussy" shrugged it off.

"I thought it was funny," Kathryn Serkes, co-founder of Women Vote Trump, told VICE News. She found it particularly amusing that Trump was describing a failed conquest, instead of his usual braggadocio. "Sometimes men are indeed pigs… Doesn't make it right, but we know it goes on."


Serkes said her pro-Trump super PAC is standing steadfastly by their nominee and that she still plans to vote for him, despite the outpouring of anger in response to the tape.

"I understand why women are offended. I understand why they're put off by it," she said. "But I just ask them to look past that."

Serkes isn't the only Republican woman who doesn't seem bothered by Trump's remarks. Washington State Republican Party Chair Susan Hutchison also defended the nominee, saying on Twitter Friday evening that he made the comments "when he was a Democrat."

The bombshell recording, leaked Friday evening by the Washington Post, features Trump caught on a hot microphone as he's discussing his sexual habits with Billy Bush of "Access Hollywood" on their way to a TV appearance.

"When you're a star, they let you do it." Trump said of trying to kiss beautiful women. "Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."

Earlier in the conversation, he talked about an unsuccessful attempt to seduce an unnamed woman. "I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn't get there. And she was married."

Serkes explained her position using an argument many Republicans have deployed to justify Trump's myriad sexist and misogynistic behavior.

"Why is it OK for Bill Clinton to actually do those things in the Oval Office, but the double standard says that Trump is unfit to be president because he says things?" Serkes said. "Clinton actually did things in the Oval Office. Trump is only talking."


Hutchison used a similar argument. "The hypocrisy of Hillary Clinton to say Trump does not belong in the White House, when her husband defined this behavior," the Washington GOP chair tweeted.

Still, women like Serkes and Hutchison are rapidly becoming a minority among Republicans in their defense of Trump. In the hours following the release of the tape, an avalanche of female GOP leaders began to condemn Trump and withdraw their endorsements.

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who is facing a tough re-election battle this November, said she would not be voting for Trump on Election Day.

"I'm a mom and an American first, and I cannot and will not support a candidate for president who brags about degrading and assaulting women." She added that she will be writing in Gov. Mike Pence, Trump's running mate, on her ballot for president.

Carly Fiorina, a former Republican presidential candidate in this cycle, joined the pile-on. "Donald Trump does not represent me or my party," she said in a statement Saturday. "I understand the responsibility of Republicans to support their nominee. Our nominee has weighty responsibilities as well. Donald Trump has manifestly failed in these responsibilities." She urged Trump to step aside and allow Pence to replace him.

Republican congresswoman Barbara Comstock also said she would not be voting for Trump and called on him to drop out of the race. The Virginia representative is also facing a tough race and until now has stayed largely silent on the GOP nominee. She called the recording "disgusting, vile, and disqualifying," and urged Trump to "step aside and allow our party to replace him with Mike Pence or another appropriate nominee from the Republican Party."

The National Federation of Republican Women, who endorsed Trump for president in March, have not said anything about the recording and did not respond to a request for comment from VICE News.

Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: @oliviaLbecker