U.S. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is belittling Democrat Hillary Clinton's bid for the presidency, saying she would not have a chance except for the fact that she is playing the "woman's card" in hopes of becoming the first female U.S. president.
The real estate developer told NBC News, "She's playing that card like I've never seen anyone play it before. All I'm doing is bringing out the obvious, that without the woman's card, Hillary would not even be a viable person to even run for a city council position."
It was Trump's latest gender-related attack on the likely Democratic presidential nominee, the wife of former president Bill Clinton and a former senator and secretary of state in her own right. After winning five state Republican nominating contests and taking command of the party's nominating race earlier this week, Trump said that if Clinton were a man, she would only get 5 percent of the vote in an election.
"If fighting for women's health care, and paid family leave, and equal pay is playing the 'woman card,' then deal me in," Clinton retorted, drawing cheers from her supporters at a rally in Philadelphia as she celebrated four Democratic primary election victories that moved her closer to clinching the party's presidential nomination.
Trump's remarks about Clinton and a "woman's card" have drawn a backlash among women in the United States.
Trump, a one-time television reality show host, drew widespread disdain earlier in the presidential campaign when he tweeted an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz, the wife of his opponent Texas Senator Ted Cruz, next to a glamorous one of his wife Melania, a former model.
Trump has repeatedly said his policies, if he is elected president, would be good for women and tells voters that he often hired women for key roles in his real estate development company.
U.S. political surveys have consistently shown that women, often 70 percent or more, hold a negative view of Trump.
The polls show Clinton with about a 9-percentage point lead in a hypothetical face-off with Trump in the November national election to pick the successor to President Barack Obama, who leaves office in January.
The next key race for both candidates is Tuesday, with Republican and Democratic party primaries in Indiana, a conservative Midwestern state with vast farmlands and industrial centers.
Cruz and another Republican contender, Ohio Governor John Kasich, have been mathematically eliminated from winning a first ballot nomination victory at the party's July national convention. They are trying to keep Trump from claiming the nomination on the first round of voting in hopes that convention delegates will pick one of them on a subsequent ballot.
A win in Indiana for Trump would not officially clinch the party's presidential nomination for him, but would give him a significant edge as he heads to the last nine remaining state nominating contests that run through early June.
Numerous Republican figures in Washington are wary about party voters' preference for Trump or Cruz, skeptical that either one of them can defeat Clinton.
Many Republican lawmakers in Congress supported other candidates who have long since dropped out of the presidential race. They say Trump has often supported Democratic candidates in the past and voiced views that are at odds with traditional, conservative Republican positions.
Boehner brands Cruz 'Lucifer in the Flesh'
Meanwhile, Cruz has won few friends in Congress, relishing his role as a conservative firebrand with barbed attacks on Democratic and Republican leaders alike.
Former House Speaker John Boehner, who led the Republican-controlled chamber before retiring last year, described Cruz as "Lucifer in the flesh" as he spoke to a group of students Wednesday in California.
"I have Democrat friends and Republican friends," Boehner said while discussing Cruz. "I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life."
Cruz, campaigning in Indiana, said he had never had any substantive conversations with Boehner. Cruz said the former House leader is "angry with me for standing up for the American people."