Wisconsin Women for Trump

Republican women voters believe Trump’s action plan for America outweighs his sexist comments

By Wen-Yee Lee

Barbara Trautman, campaign committee chair for the National Federation of Republican Women,  supports Donald Trump regardless of his sexual comments. “He is our nominee. That’s the bottom line for me,” Trautman said firmly. “A true Republican is not gonna vote for Hillary.”

Trump’s 2005 Access Hollywood video, in which he boasted about groping women, triggered a heated debate among women voters. But there are still many Republican women like Trautman who think Trump’s action plan for America outweighs his sexist comments. They believe Trump will be the ideal president who will appoint the right conservative judges for the Supreme Court and take any action for this country.

Ninety-three percent of Republican women voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, according to New York Times in a recent article. Although the percentage of the Republican women supporters has dropped for 2016, 79 percent of them support Trump, according to the Times.

Hillary Clinton advocates women’s rights, but these Republican women voters do not buy her support.

“I do not see that Hilary Clinton has helped women. I think that’s a mantra, but I don’t see it,” said Kathy Hentzen, a 16-year volunteer for the North Shore Republican Branch of Milwaukee County.

Republican volunteer Valerie Houk
Valerie Houk, a 17-year Republican volunteer for the Republican Party of Waukesha, Wisc., canvases for Trump on Oct. 22. (Wen-Yee Lee/MEDILL)

For some Republican women voters, abortion is a key issue. Valerie Houk, a volunteer for the Republican Party of Waukesha County since 1999, advocates anti-abortion policies while she makes phone calls for Donald Trump and incumbent GOP senator Ron Johnson.

“The only health care for women that [Clinton] cares about is that women can have an abortion and women can get rid of their babies,” Houk said. “It’s a terrible thing.”

In her presidential debates with Trump, Clinton said she supports a woman’s constitutional right to choose to end a pregnancy as well as may other healthcare initiatives including the Affordable Care Act.

“The government has no business in the decisions that women make with their families in accordance with their faith, with medical advice,” Clinton said. She promised to stand up for women’s right to make such choices, while Trump said he opposes abortion and pledged to appoint pro-life judges to the Supreme Court.

National Federation of Republican Women
Members of the National Federation of Republican Women attended the Wisconsin Strike Force in Bayside, Wisconsin on Oct. 22. Pictured are GOP Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who is running for reelection, (third from upper left) and Barbara Trautman, campaign committee chair for the National Federation of Republican Women (third from left in the second row). (Wen-Yee Lee/MEDILL)

Trump’s female supporters put high emphasis on not only health care issues related to women, but any issue related to their families, including the right to carry guns. “I’m a woman. I believe that I have the right to defend myself, my family,” said Hentzen.

Hentzen regards gun ownership as a women’s right to safety. In the presidential debate, Trump declared he will uphold the Second Amendment, an issue of great importance to the Republican supporters.

Showing how much the issue matters to them, the Republican Women of Waukesha County held a safety course, Girls and Guns 101.

Coming from a manufacturing family, Hentzen also spoke as a businesswoman. She is unwilling to see more businesses and jobs go overseas. “It threatens my family and our family business,” she said, “It’s easy for me to speak to these issues as a woman, as a business woman, and as a family business.”

Robin Moore, president of the Republican Women of Waukesha County, believes in Trump’s record as a businessman instead of a politician. “When you hear Donald Trump say something, ‘I’m going to stop this, I’m going to 100 percent do this and beat for that,’ he does have a position of a businessman starting a negotiating process.”

Moore pointed out that Trump hired women for management positions in his business. At the same time, she argued that the Clinton Foundation has taken money from Middle East countries, even though those governments support policies that treat women horribly.

“Trump’s comment oversimplifies donations to the Clinton Foundation to make a quick attack against his Democratic rival. He makes it sound as if Clinton personally received money from foreign governments with poor records on human rights,” according to PolitiFact. Presidential candidates can’t take money donated by foreign governments.

With only a few days left before the election, Clinton is a mere two points ahead of Trump among likely voters, 47 percent to 45 percent, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News Tracking Poll conducted from Oct. 29 to Nov. 1.

Photo at top: Campaign materials for Wisconsin Women for Trump at North Shore GOP Campaign Office Oct. 22. (Wen-Yee Lee/MEDILL)