America’s gender war is on. Donald Trump launched the blitzkrieg Tuesday night.
“Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she’s got going is the women’s card,” declared the Republican presidential frontrunner after his 5-state primary sweep.
His Democratic opponent shot back. “Mr. Trump accused me of playing the ‘woman card,’” Clinton told cheering supporters. “Well, if fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the ‘woman card,’ then deal me in.”
Trump says: “The beautiful thing is, women don’t like her.”
Not so among the women I spoke to last week, at an off-the-record salon. The group of 20 influential Chicago women political activists and donors came to a consensus: It will be Clinton v. Trump in November.
They staked out two battle positions:
(1) Clinton is a superbly accomplished individual and singularly qualified for the presidency. (2) Trump can never be president.
They are well-armed, thanks to Trump himself. On the campaign trail, while he claims to “love women,” he consistently mocks and ridicules accomplished women, knocking their looks and competence, joking about their menstrual periods and bathroom breaks.
In a potential November contest, registered women voters picked Clinton over Trump, 58 to 31 percent, says a CBS News national poll taken last month.
Ladies, watch for Trump’s secret weapon: A man.
Late last year, the Hillary Clinton campaign announced that former President Bill Clinton would stump for her in the presidential primaries.
Trump tweeted in response: “Hillary Clinton has announced that she is letting her husband out to campaign but HE’S DEMONSTRATED A PENCHANT FOR SEXISM, so inappropriate!”
A couple of days later he wrote: “If Hillary thinks she can unleash her husband, with his terrible record of women abuse, while playing the women’s card on me, she’s wrong!”
Bill Clinton went on to become his wife’s most fervent, popular, and effective surrogate.
Now, the war is in full swing. On Friday morning, Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson told MSNBC, “If Hillary Clinton or her team wants to go after Donald Trump as a sexist, then he will absolutely bring up that topic because there is a lot to discuss that was not brought out into the public.”
Trump followed up by tweeting that Hillary is “one of the all time great enablers!”
Eighteen years hence, the Monica Lewinsky impeachment scandal still feels sordid and seedy.
Trump, master of the sound bite, tweet and rally, will deploy his signature weapons to stalk the Clintons, day after day.
It will go like this: Secretary Clinton, your opponent calls your husband a philanderer, with a long history of allegations of infidelity, and a White House dalliance with a young intern. As an accomplished woman and feminist champion, why do you keep him around?
It will be low brow. It will be crude. That’s Trump’s specialty, and his brand of innuendo, personal attacks, and insults have gotten him far.
Hillary Clinton’s man may have to go — at least, off the trail.
Follow Laura Washington Twitter: Follow @mediadervish