Trump Tries to Shore up Support Among Women as Polls Show Him Trailing

Some of President Donald Trump's fiercest female allies have set out in a hot pink RV to try to drum up support among a crucial voting base—women in swing states across the country—ahead of this fall's election.

The "Women for Trump" bus tour that launched from Pennsylvania this week comes as polls show Trump trailing Democratic rival Joe Biden heavily among female voters.

Trump's campaign hopes that appealing to women through highlighting economic growth, the effort to reopen schools after the coronavirus shutdown, and the president's "law and order" messaging following protests will be enough to lift him above Biden in key swing states necessary to winning a second term.

The portion of the tour that launched this week features the president's daughter-in-law Lara Trump; campaign adviser Mercedes Schlapp, who previously worked in the White House communications office; and Katrina Pierson, a tea party activist who also was a prominent spokeswoman for Trump's 2016 campaign.

"The press kept saying that women didn't support him, but everywhere we went it was nothing but women," Pierson told Newsweek of the Women for Trump coalition that they are trying to promote. "It became what it is now—a massive organization that was very organic."

Trump's often caustic rhetoric aimed at women—he's publicly insulted women's looks and spoken vulgarly—was previously seen as a liability as he faced off against the first female candidate at the top of a major party presidential ticket.

But he performed better than expected in 2016, particularly among white suburban women—a feat he's hoping to repeat this time around.

At a recent stop in a rural, unincorporated area in Pennsylvania about 40 minutes outside of Philadelphia, several dozen women gathered as the sun beamed down. Many wore bright pink Trump attire—some even dressed in bedazzled campaign gear. They waved signs and cheered loudly as Laura Trump, Pierson, and Schlapp spoke.

Kathy Mullin, who recently moved to Pennsylvania from New Jersey where she had lived for 30 years, was among the mostly-female crowd who came out to show her support for Trump and the women joining the bus tour.

"We're going to be working very hard every day to get President Trump re-elected," she told Newsweek. "Any support I can give our president, I'm ready."

Mullin said she worries about demonstrations taking place around the country, which she views as being led by "anarchists." She also has concerns about left-wing Democrats and talk of "socialism."

"If Trump doesn't win, we'll have no country," Mullin said. "I truly believe that."

That position is one that aligns with how Schlapp, a second-generation Cuban American, described the goal of the Women for Trump messaging.

"We want safety in our communities and a strong economy where our children, and ourselves, have the opportunity to keep moving up," Schlapp told Newsweek of the message the campaign is hoping to send to female voters. "What President Trump is offering is that."

Pollsters and political analysts have warned that Trump has a problem with his female voter base, which helped loft him over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton four years ago and blocked Clinton's attempt to become the nation's first woman president.

New non-partisan, independent surveys released Monday on Pennsylvania and two other battleground states show Biden with solid leads over Trump with three months left in the race.

In each of the polls—Michigan and Wisconsin were the other two—women made up a sizable portion of Biden's base, backing the former vice president by double digits. All three states voted for Trump in 2016.

"All three states remain battlegrounds that should not be ignored by either campaign," Barry Burden, political science professor and director of the ERC, said in a news release.

Trump battlegrounds
Poll results released August 10, 2020 from the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Pennsylvania portion of the release showed Biden with 55 percent of support among women, compared to Trump's 36 percent.

A separate YouGov poll released last week found 57 percent of female voters surveyed nationally said they disapprove of the job Trump's done as president. His disapproval among men in the same survey was at 48 percent.

But Lara Trump said she believes that, as happened in 2016, Trump will see more votes than the polls suggest.

"There are a lot of people scared to say they support Donald Trump," she said, echoing remarks that the president has made about believing that a "silent majority" supports him and will help reelect him this fall.

"We're gonna take this bus every single day through the last day of this election to reach out to all the voters that we can to talk about the great man who is leading our country through this difficult time," Schlapp said.

"We've got to make sure that we get our people out to vote and convince those people who are on the fence. The road to victory is gonna happen through this great state of Pennsylvania."

Pierson said she thinks the response to the Women for Trump coalition has sent "shockwaves" through the Democratic Party.

"Pennsylvania did it in 2016, and now it's time to do it again in 2020," she said.

lara trump
Laura Trump, President Donald Trumps daughter in-law and member of his 2020 reelection campaign, speaks on stage during the Conservative Political Action Conference 2020 (CPAC) hosted by the American Conservative Union on February 28, 2020 in National Harbor, MD. Samuel Corum/Getty

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