During the third and final presidential debate in Las Vegas, Hillary Clinton again fared better than in comparison to her at-times clearly ruffled opponent, Donald Trump. According to a CNN/ORC poll of debate watchers (which is slightly skewed to Democrats), Clinton led Donald Trump by a 13% margin overall; she nabbed 52% with Trump trailing at 39%. Much of this loss came down — once again — to Clinton’s preparedness on the issues while Trump engaged in line-in-the-sand tactics, including his response to being called Vladimir Putin’s puppet. And as always, the end result came down to Trump damning himself with women voters.
Trump messing up with women during his confrontations with Clinton are nothing new. During the first debate, he addressed his history of disparaging comments about women by insulting women. By the second debate, Trump avoided his “locker room talk” by claiming he never acted on the behavior that he bragged about. Since then, several women have made sexual assault allegations of Trump groping, kissing, and otherwise foisting himself on them without consent. Trump has strenuously denied all of these claims, but going into the last stretch of his campaign, he needed a debate performance that could overcome his problems with women. Sadly for Trump, he did nothing but reinforce the issues women voters have with him.
At one point, Clinton addressed Trump’s rhetoric against women with a quote that encapsulated how he makes women feel: “Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger. He goes after their dignity, their self worth.” She then brought it home: “I don’t think there is a woman anywhere who doesn’t know what that feels like. So we now know what Donald is and what he said and how he acts toward women. That’s who he is.” Let’s run down the ways where Trump further drove a wedge between himself and women voters.
“Such a Nasty Woman”
One of the most egregious examples of the Republican nominee doing himself in with women happened true to Trump form. After beginning the evening in a somber fashion, Trump held it together for awhile, but whatever debate prep was done eventually slipped by the wayside. Near the end of the debate, Clinton spoke about how social security contributions would go up under her tax plan. She also pointed out that Trump would probably find a way to avoid paying more — a clear reference to his decades of not paying federal taxes — and he didn’t react well. Instead of maintaining a poker face or issuing a denial, Trump couldn’t resist a snide reaction. He shook his head and interrupted by saying, “Such a nasty woman.”
With this simple insult, Trump reinforced decades of terrible statements he’s made about women. He shows no intention of behaving civilly, which also goes back to how he recently dismissed a woman who accused him of sexual assault because he finds her too unattractive to be worthy of assault. Trump always responds to legitimate challenges and accusations by women by immediately volleying gender-based insults as a default response.