NEW YORK - Hillary Clinton is set on making history this November as the United States’ first female president — a fact that has not gone unnoticed by Republican rival Donald Trump
“If Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote,” said Trump. “The beautiful thing is, women don’t like her.”
Neither Clinton nor Trump have yet clinched their respective nominations, but that hasn’t stopped Trump, who this week labeled himself the GOP’s “presumptive nominee” following a five-state primary sweep.
On Thursday, he upped the ante, telling the "Today" show that Clinton “would not even be a viable person for city council positions” without the “woman’s card.”
Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner Clinton, and they’ll tell you he is playing a dangerous hand.
Clinton backers respond
Women — particularly Clinton supporters — have been quick to label Trump’s comments misogynistic. The remarks have drawn heavy fire from the New York City Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW).
NOW NYC spokesperson Emily Hockett told VOA that Clinton “has gotten as far as she has despite the fact that she’s a woman,” and has overcome “a lot more than many men and past male presidents.
“She’s much more qualified than all the other male candidates in the field,” Hockett said. “And, yet she’s still being criticized in ways that are very gender-focused on her appearance and her tone of voice. These are sexist critiques that men have not received.”
NOW recently launched a social media campaign called “Ms. President NOW,” to highlight its support of Clinton on women’s issues, including reproductive rights, paid family leave, and violence against women.
Hockett added that Trump has been contradictory in his statements about women.
“When he says, ‘I want to see women punished for getting an abortion,’ that’s very contradictory to his pro-women, ‘I love women,’ comments,” said Hockett.
The Clinton campaign, for its part, came back with an email offering supporters their very own “woman card,” in exchange for a one dollar donation. It is an actual plastic card — pink and yellow — that resembles a credit card. “Congratulations! You’re in the majority,” it reads.
“If fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the ‘woman card,’ then deal me in,” Clinton remarked during her Pennsylvania victory speech Tuesday night.
Gloria Steinem, co-founder of the American liberal feminist Ms. Magazine, weighed in on the matter during a company event in New York, in which she described Trump as having “Barbie-doll hair” and a “gelatinous mask.”
“He so constantly berates women, and berates good ones like Rosie O’Donnell,” Steinem said. “I noticed that women have yet to berate him.”
‘Babes for Trump’
But not all female voters have taken offense to Trump’s rhetoric, especially among his supporters.
Lynette Villano, an unbound delegate from Pennsylvania, said she is “proud to be a woman supporting Donald Trump,” in a recent call to a weekly conservative talk radio program.
Villano says she has seldom witnessed a “gender gap” issue for Trump in her community, despite national media reports that suggest otherwise.
“Most of the people in my community, including women, are more concerned about the big issues than those types of things,” Villano said.
Like many Republicans, Villano says the most important issues for her are national security and the economy.
“I’m a mother. I’m a grandmother," she said. "I’m worried about jobs for our young people.”
Villano believes Trump will pick up more support if he wins the nomination.
Online, self-described Babes for Trump have taken to Twitter — now boasting 12,500 followers — to express their mutual support for the New York billionaire and disdain for both Clinton and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Trump’s chief Republican primary opponent, who recently named former CEO of Hewlett-Packard Carly Fiorina as his choice for running mate.
“What is Cruz trying to accomplish with this [vice president nomination]?” wrote the site’s administrator. “Are they trying [to] propose a female version of Trump via a failed businesswoman?”
Overall, Trump trails Clinton in virtually all hypothetical general election polls.
A CBS News national poll conducted in April gives Clinton a 58-31 percent lead among registered female voters. The same poll maintains that 69 percent of female voters hold “unfavorable” views of the businessman, compared to a 45 percent unfavorable rating for Clinton.