Politics & Government

'War on women' has a Democratic front, too

In this Jan. 3, 2011 file photo, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell makes remarks during a news conference in Philadelphia. The former governor said Donald Trump's past comments on women will likely come back to haunt him because Rendell said "there are probably more ugly women in America than attractive women." The Democrat was offering his thoughts to The Washington Post on the likely Republican nominee's prospects for success in the Philadelphia suburbs when he made the comment. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
In this Jan. 3, 2011 file photo, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell makes remarks during a news conference in Philadelphia. The former governor said Donald Trump's past comments on women will likely come back to haunt him because Rendell said "there are probably more ugly women in America than attractive women." The Democrat was offering his thoughts to The Washington Post on the likely Republican nominee's prospects for success in the Philadelphia suburbs when he made the comment. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File) AP

At first glance, you might think the Democrats would have their easiest time ever of accusing the Republicans of waging a war on women, with Donald Trump at the top of the Republican ticket.

But there are three powerful reminders this week that the Democrats have plenty of problems of their own.

First, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and prominent supporter of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, explained that Trump will have trouble with women at the polls because there are "more ugly women in America than attractive women."

Then supporters of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders unleashed a jarring stream of vulgar, sexist attacks on the chairwoman of the Nevada Democratic Party after Sanders got bested in delegates by Clinton.

Now Sanders' campaign is engaged in a war of words with current DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, accusing her of being in the tank for Clinton.

And, finally, Trump served notice that whenever Clinton and other Democrats slam him for objectifying women, Trump will hit back at Bill Clinton, as he did in a television interview Wednesday, accusing the former president of rape.

So if there's a war over the war on women, it will definitely be waged by and against both major parties.

"Sexism is not limited to one political party or the other," said Susan Carroll, a professor of political science and women's and gender studies at New Jersey's Rutgers University. "It clearly manifests itself across the political spectrum."

And Democrats gave two prime examples this week. Rendell, in an interview with The Washington Post, said Trump's comments about women will backfire on him because "There are probably more ugly women in America than attractive women."

He apologized for the remark Wednesday. "What I said was incredibly stupid and insensitive," he told reporters in Philadelphia. "When I read it in the article I said, 'Did I say that?' It was just dumb and stupid and insensitive, and if I offended anyone, I apologize."

Sanders supporters, riled up after a melee during at a state Democratic Party meeting in Nevada, unleashed a torrent of hateful, sexist emails and voicemails toward state Democratic Party chairwoman Roberta Lange, much of it unprintable.

This isn't what Democrats had in mind for 2016. They envisioned an easy time winning the women's vote, thanks to Trump's feud with Fox News host Megyn Kelly and some of the off-color comments and he's made about women, including Clinton, Rosie O'Donnell, former Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina and Heidi Cruz, wife of Sen. Ted Cruz.

They've been hoping for a reprise of their 2012 claim that Republicans were waging a "war against women," launched after two GOP Senate candidates made controversial comments about women and rape.

And polls do consistently show that Trump has a major problem with women voters. A CNN/ORC poll in March showed that 73 percent of registered women voters had an unfavorable view of Trump, up from a 59 percent negative view in December.

But Trump believes that Clinton has a problem with women voters as well, especially millennial women. He has attacked Clinton, accusing her of playing the "woman's card" and being an "enabler" of her husband's infidelities.

He vowed that if she goes after him on women, he'll aggressively respond, using former President Clinton's sex scandals as ammunition.

Appearing Wednesday on Fox News Channel's "Hannity," Trump and host Sean Hannity discussed alleged sexual misconduct by Bill Clinton against Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey.

"You look at what Clinton's gone through with all of the problems and all of the things that he's done," Trump told Hannity.

Criticizing a New York Times piece that chronicled Trump's behavior toward women, Hannity asked whether the paper would interview Broaddrick, Jones and Willey.

"In one case, it's about exposure. In another case, it's about groping and fondling and touching against a woman's will," Hannity said.

"And rape," Trump added.

Carroll said Trump's rhetorical attacks against the Clintons about women has thrown Hillary Clinton's campaign off.

"She was going after Donald Trump on sexism and she has backed off," Carroll said.

However, Priorities USA, a Clinton-affiliated super political action committee, unveiled a television ad Wednesday showing voters lip-syncing some of Trump's comments about women.

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