It was just back in May that Donald Trump was found liable for sexual abuse in the case of E. Jean Carroll. Ms. Carroll was awarded US$5-million in a judgment that the Associated Press reported “could haunt the former president as he campaigns to regain the White House.”
Haunt him? How’s that again? The case is pretty much forgotten. It’s barely been mentioned since the verdict. Not by President Joe Biden and not by contenders for the Republican nomination, including female candidate Nikki Haley.
Mr. Trump isn’t haunted by the Carroll case, nor the cases of about two dozen other women who have accused him of sexual offences, nor by his hush-money payout to a porn star.
It’s bad news, terrible news for anyone wishing to see the end of him – because female voters are the key to beating him. They – particularly women of colour – vote against him in far greater percentages than men. Women don’t, thankfully, fall for his travesties to the degree the fossilized American male voting population does.
In 2020, Mr. Biden got 55 per cent of the women’s vote, according to the Pew Research Center, compared with 44 per cent for Mr. Trump. The gap was even larger for the Democrats in the 2016 election, that being the campaign that featured the infamous Hollywood Access tape wherein Mr. Trump boasted of grabbing women by the genitals.
To win in 2024, the Democrats likely will need to further broaden the gender gap. But while they are scoring well against the Republicans on the abortion rights issue, they are failing to highlight not only Mr. Trump’s sexual offences against women, but much else. For example, his blocking of laws that promoted equal pay in the workplace; his failing to appoint women in respectable numbers to positions of power; his undermining of women’s access to health care, dental care, paid leave; his slashing of funding for family planning programs.
On the Republican side, Ms. Haley is missing a great opportunity. Her party is on board with Mr. Trump on the abortion issue, but on his abuse of women, she is strangely silent. Since she has so much ground to make up to have any chance against him, she can’t afford to be.
Democrats have reason to fear her winning the primary. In hypothetical polling match-ups against Mr. Biden, Ms. Haley does much better than Mr. Trump. The reason seems obvious. She would take away the Democrats’ gender-gap advantage.
In the Republican debates, neither Ms. Haley nor the other candidates have gone after Mr. Trump on his treatment of women.
They would do well to recall what happened in a debate in the 2020 Democratic nominee race to former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, on account of his abusive record toward women as head of his billion-dollar financial software company.
He was napalmed by Senator Elizabeth Warren in one of the most brutal debate takedowns ever seen. “I’d like to talk about who we’re running against – a billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians,’” she started off. “And no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”
Less than two weeks later, Mr. Bloomberg ended his campaign.
Ms. Haley, who decried Mr. Trump as a racist in 2016 before flip-flopping to support him after his election win, could have said even worse things in the debates about Mr. Trump. But she chickened out. That was also the case when the Carroll verdict came through. Incredibly, Ms. Haley issued a neutral statement containing not a word of criticism of Mr. Trump.
As for Mr. Biden, it’s not so difficult to see why, to Democrats’ dismay, he’s hesitant to go after Mr. Trump on the Carroll verdict or the claims of so many other women since becoming President. During the 2020 campaign, Tara Reade, a staffer for him when he was a senator, claimed that in 1993 in a Senate building corridor, Mr. Biden pushed her against a wall and sexually assaulted her.
There were many inconsistencies in her story and no other former Biden staffers claimed to witness sexual misconduct by him. The story eventually petered out. But the case still leaves him open to a counterattack from Mr. Trump, who is vicious when accorded such an opportunity.
And so, from both parties, Mr. Trump is getting a free pass on his history of sexual misconduct. Isn’t the 91-felony-counts candidate getting away with enough already? He’s leading in the polls to take back the White House. To stop him, opponents have to greatly capitalize on the gender gap. Given the way he’s treated women, it’s only just that women bring him down.