Gender politics playing a big role for Trump and Clinton

Hillary Clinton

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

WASHINGTON (AP) — She has no stamina. She shouts. She’s got nothing going for her but being a woman.

Donald Trump, after toying with gender politics off and on during the campaign, is all in on a mission to undercut Hillary Clinton‘s credentials by syncing up his say-anything campaign strategy with his alpha-male persona.

The same Republican presidential candidate who mocked “little” Marco Rubio, dismissed “low-energy” Jeb Bush and promises to “cherish” and “protect” women as president is dismissing the former senator, secretary of state and first lady as little more than a token female who’s playing the “woman’s card.”

“Frankly, all I’m doing is stating the obvious,” Trump insisted, when pressed about whether his latest Clinton take-downs were sexist. “Without the woman’s card, Hillary would not even be a viable person to run for city council.”

That message may resonate with one subset of the electorate and touch off outrage with another. But for many other voters, Trump’s line of attack is simply baffling when America is trying to deal with far more complex matters of gender, such as gay marriage and transgender rights.

“It’s a very simplistic notion of gender,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. She said Trump is “putting out there a notion of masculinity” that fits with popular images of the presidency. “He is playing the gender card but not connecting it to policy, instead connecting it to his own macho image and his bravado.”

Trump’s messages about women represent a tangle of views, said Stanley Renshon, a political psychologist at the City University of New York.

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