The Republican candidate scored his first victory in the states in the primaries, but now his nomination has been overshadowed by a growing list of allegations
Lifelong Republican Karen Porter paused for a moment at the mention of Donald Trumps name, then said with a sigh: I likely will vote against my party this year for the first time in my life.
The retired teacher had just strolled out of a textile store in Manchester, the New Hampshire city where, in February, the Trump political bulldozer started flattening everything in its path.
He scored his first victory here in the 2016 presidential primaries, but now that his nomination has been overshadowed by growing scandals over his attitude and behavior towards girls, he is struggling to persuade voters like Porter to rally around his candidacy.
I think it tells a lot about his character, Porter said of leaked footage from 2005, in which Trump boasted about groping and kissing women without their permission.
The way he treats females, or he talks about women, in such a vile way … Im not sure I truly want to trust person like that, who doesnt value people.
At 57, Porter has never voted for a Democrat and felt as though she might stay home. But the avalanche of revelations detailing Trumps behavior toward girls, including a growing number allegations of sexual assault, appear to have pushed Porter over the edge ready to cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton.
I cant believe Im saying that, but yes, she said. Without suburban females like her, Trumps route to the White House seems hard to navigate.
Since the recording of Trump emerged, Republican and right-leaning independents everywhere have found themselves soul-searching as they vacillate between party and principle. But in the battleground of New Hampshire, a state that holds the distinction of being the first in US history to have an all-female delegation of congresswomen and senators, Trumps latest dispute is, for some female voters, perhaps the final straw.
A number of women who spoke with the Guardian at the strip mall of the Manchester suburbs said they were profoundly troubled by Trumps remarks, even as they confessed to still being torn over their choices.
Hope Grugnali, a 38 -year-old resident of Amherst, contemplated what impact Trumps vulgar language might have on her three children.
Im a woman and I have a daughter, and I dont want people to treat her disrespectfully, Grugnali said, as she clutched a pair of childrens shoes in the aisles of a discount store.
I also have sons, she added, and I dont want them to think they can go around treating a woman like that, either.
Grugnali identified herself as an independent who was initially drawn to the former Florida governor Jeb Bush but ultimately have voted in favour of the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders in the states open primary. She had not yet settled on voting for Clinton, but described potential impacts of the Trump tape as terrible.
I is considered that Donald Trump is worse than anyone, so its anyone but him.
Laura Rexford, 37, offered a similar response. If we condone what hes saying, what about that guy who raped an unconscious daughter? she said, invoking the sexual assault of an unconscious woman by a Stanford University swimmer outside a frat home last year. Do Trumps comments induce that OK?
Rexford, too, is an independent who views neither major-party candidate favorably but said it would be wasting her referendum not to cast a ballot for one of them. In spite of her trust issues such as Clinton, she said she was beginning to lean toward her: I dont think he has the ability to be president.
Following numerous reorganizations in his campaign, Trump hired as his campaign administrator Kellyanne Conway, a Republican strategist whose background was heavy in its emphasis on helping the party communicate with female voters. Briefly, he demonstrated signs of message discipline, bound mostly to a teleprompter in August and September, and embarking upon what his campaign described as outreach toward minorities.
Republican operatives outside the Trump campaign said it was a shift in tone designed to make suburban females assure past his inflammatory rhetoric and feel comfy voting for him.
But then came the videotape. Dozens of Republican elected officials rescinded their endorsements of Trump, with some even calling upon the nominee to step aside.
The New Hampshire senator Kelly Ayotte, one of the more vulnerable Republicans facing re-election in November, was the first to withdraw her is supportive of Trump after the videotape emerged.
But her opponent, the Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan, has cast Ayottes decision to renounce Trump as one of political calculation. She stood by Donald Trump as he not only insulted females, but insulted a Gold Star household[ who lost a son in the Iraq War ], insulted people with physical disabilities, Hassan said on Wednesday after touring a pin manufacturing plant in Ayottes hometown of Nashua.
Hassan also confiscated upon Ayottes response, in a debate just days before the release of the tape, when asked if Trump was a role model. After stumbling around her answer, Ayotte said he perfectly was a characterization she immediately recanted, but not before the damage had been done.
Ayotte held her own dialogue with reporters in Manchester on Wednesday, after attending a ceremony for fallen police officer. On a television screen behind her, an attack ad by Hassan tied her to Trump while featuring her role model comment.
Ayotte, who spent much of the past year condemning Trumps statements, said she made the decision to revoke her supporting as a matter of principle. Thats more important to me than winning an electoral, the senator said.
Clinton holds a five-point edge over Trump in New Hampshire based on the Huffington Posts pollster model, which takes an average of publicly available surveys.
A UMass Lowell/ 7 News poll released in the wake of Trumps offensive tape found that more than four in five likely New Hampshire voters had either heard his comments or discussed them with others. While 66% said it did not make a difference, 30% said they were less likely to vote for Trump with women more inclined than humen to fell their is supportive of the Republican nominee.
Trump has spent the past week waging scorched ground warfare against the Republican lawmakers who spurned him, while also seeking to discredit the women who have accused him of sexual assault. He has also insulted the physical appearance of some of his accusers and questioned their motivations for coming forward now.
While its improbable that Trumps base would alone be enough to carry him over the finish line on 8 November, it may be all that he has.
As dusk fell upon the historic downtown of Nashua, Jean and Lise Parent, a married couple, were wrapping up the day inside their property management office. The window was adorned with Halloween cobwebs and spiders and a sign in support of the Republican nominee: The silent majority stands with Trump.
If a woman awaits 30 years to come and say a story like that Lise, 69, said of the sexual assault allegations against Trump.
Thats bullshit, her husband Jean, 73, interjected.
Theres something wrong, Lise continued. Shes getting paid for it. Shes get money somewhere.
The couple was two doorways down from the Trump campaigns Nashua office, which had only a handful of volunteers despite simply 21 days remaining until election day.
The Parent, who said they were tired of legislators, were drawn to Trump as a force of change. Like most of his supporters, they blamed Trumps foes for colluding with the media to sabotage his campaign.
I think theyre trying to grab as much grime as they can to eliminate him, because the establishment is not behind him, Jean said. The Republican are so scared that hes going to mess up. I call them chicken shit, Lise said.
Were they not concerned by any of Trumps incendiary comments? The response from Jean was simple: Like what?
Read more: www.theguardian.com
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