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Trump and Clinton Wage War on 'Woman Card' in Preview of General Election Fight

Following sweeping primary victories on Tuesday, Trump and Clinton drew battle lines on gender as they prepare to square off for the US presidency.
Photo by Justin Lane/EPA

After another round of sweeping primary victories on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are making it clear that they expect to square off in the general election.

Trump wasted no time in giving a preview of just how nasty that matchup is going to look like.

"I think the only card she has is the women's card," he said at a press conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan after winning all five Republican primary states. "She's got nothing else going. And frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she would get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she's got going is the woman's card. And the beautiful thing is, women don't like her, OK?"


In her own victory speech that same night, Clinton called him out for accusing her of playing her gender to her advantage.

"Mr. Trump accused me of playing the woman card," Clinton said. "Well, if fighting for women's health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in."

Caught your speech, — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton)April 27, 2016

Trump's "woman card" comment quickly provoked outrage and mockery online. Clinton's campaign responded by tweeting a video juxtaposing her comments against Trump's. Clinton's campaign later sent a fundraising email on Wednesday that called Trump's "woman card" comment an "absurd diatribe."

"This campaign is going to need deep resources for the wild ride that likely awaits us," the email read.

Footage of Mary Pat Christie, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's wife, apparently rolling her eyes beside Trump as he delivered the remarks also went viral.

This is brutal — Gideon Resnick (@GideonResnick)April 27, 2016

Yet never one to back down, Trump continued his attack on Wednesday morning during a whirlwind tour of appearances on four cable news networks.

"She is a woman. She is playing the woman card left and right," Trump said during on CNN's New Day. "She didn't play it last time with Obama. But she's playing it much harder this time and she will be called on it."

"If she were a man and she was the way she is, she would get virtually no votes," Trump added.


He also weighed in on the tenor of Clinton's voice during an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe.

"I haven't quite recovered — it's early in the morning — from her shouting that message," Trump said. "And I know a lot of people would say you can't say that about a woman, because of course a woman doesn't shout. But the way she shouted that message was not — that's the way she said it, and I guess I'll have to get used to a lot of that over the next four or five months."

Trump also commented on Senator Ted Cruz's vetting of Carly Fiorina as a possible running mate when he called into ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday morning. Lest there be any confusion, Trump clarified that he felt Fiorina was a bad choice because she "did not resonate at all with people" — but "not because she's a woman."

Trump has repeatedly made disparaging and sexist remarks toward women throughout his campaign, and has repeatedly used the "woman card" line against Clinton. In January, he said she is "constantly playing the woman card" as the "only way for her to elected." He has also said she was "schlonged" in the 2008 primary by Barack Obama.

Almost as frequent as Trump's sexist comments are his assurances that women actually love him.

"I'll do far more for women than Hillary Clinton ever will," he said during his Tuesday night victory speech. "And look how well I did with women tonight!" he later added.

Exit surveys, polling data, and national favorability ratings have repeatedly shown that this is not true. According to CNN exit polls, Trump did worse with Republican women than men in three of Tuesday's primary states with available data. About half of women in his own party said they cannot imagine supporting him if he becomes the nominee, according to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll from last month.

That's just among Republicans. When it comes to national favorability ratings, the gap between Clinton and Trump when it comes to female support looks more like a gulf. About 73 percent of women nationally have an unfavorable view of Trump, according to a CNN/ORC poll from last month. A recent poll from Reuters shows that half of women in the country say they have a "very unfavorable" view of him, up from 40 percent who said the same since last October.

Trump doesn't seem bothered about those numbers. During his appearance on MSNBC he said, "We're going to do very well with Hillary and with women as soon as we start our process against her."

Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: @oliviaLbecker