WASHINGTON - Donald Trump's treatment of women through the years — the executives he's hired by day for his real estate development business and the beautiful women he's pursued at night — is getting a new look by U.S. media now that he is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
Two of the country's most prominent news outlets — The Washington Post and The New York Times — both published stories in recent days looking in detail at Trump's past connections with women.
They comprise the majority of the U.S. electorate Trump would face in November's national presidential election against the likely Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is seeking to become the country's first female president.
Trump as his own publicist?
The Post reported that for years in the 1990s Trump masqueraded as his own publicist, often calling himself "John Miller" or "John Barron" in calls with reporters as he bragged about his exploits with women while he was married to the first of his three wives, Ivana Trump.
In one taped interview, a man claiming to be Trump's spokesman but with a voice sounding like Trump, said, "Actresses just call to see if they can go out with him and things."
The publicist assured the reporter that Trump treated his wife well as would he his new girlfriend, Marla Maples, who became his second wife.
In the interview, Miller referred to Trump as "he," but lapsed into the first person, too, as he talked about one Trump conquest.
"I think it's somebody that — you know, she's beautiful. I saw her once, quickly and beautiful...," he said before continuing the conversation in the third person.
Trump denied that the voice on the tape was his, but he testified in a 1990 court case that he used the alter ego Miller "on occasion."
The Times said that more than 50 interviews it conducted with women Trump has encountered through the years "reveal unwelcome romantic advances, unending commentary on the female form, a shrewd reliance on ambitious women, and unsettling workplace conduct."
"What emerges from the interviews is a complex, at times contradictory portrait of a wealthy, well-known and provocative man and the women around him, one that defies simple categorization," the article said. "Some women found him gracious and encouraging. He promoted several to the loftiest heights of his company, a daring move for a major real estate developer at the time."
The newspaper said, "He simultaneously nurtured women’s careers and mocked their physical appearance."
One beauty contest entrant recalled Trump introducing himself to her and abruptly kissing her "directly on the lips. I thought, 'Oh my God, gross.'"
A New York public official, a woman, remembered Trump cutting short a meeting as he announced, "I have this great date tonight with a model for Victoria's Secret," a lingerie retailer.
As he surged to the top of the once-crowded field of 17 Republican presidential contenders, Trump often has described himself as a champion of women's rights. He has branded Clinton as an "enabler" of infidelities committed by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
After the Times story was published Sunday, Trump tweeted, "Everyone continues to pile onto Donald, but they can NEVER take away our votes."
In another tweet, he said, "The failing NYTimes wrote yet another hit piece on me. All are impressed with how nicely I have treated women, they found nothing. A joke!"
Asked about Trump's relations with women, the Republican national chairman, Reince Preibus, told ABC on Sunday, "These are things that he's going to have to answer for."
But Priebus said voters are more interested in what he would do as a possible president.
"I don’t think Donald Trump is being judged based on his personal life," Priebus said. "I think people are judging Donald Trump as to whether or not he’s someone that’s going to go to Washington and shake things up. And that’s why he’s doing so well."
Six months ahead of the national election, political surveys show Clinton with about a 6 percentage-point edge over Trump.
The winner will succeed President Barack Obama when he leaves office next January after eight years in the White House.