The candidate: Donald Trump
The gaffe: USA Today’s Kirsten Powers asked Trump about the allegations of sexual harassment that toppled Fox News honcho Roger Ailes. When Trump downplayed them, she asked how he’d feel if his daughter was harassed. “I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case,” he said. Tuesday morning, Trump’s son Eric tried to clean it up. While saying harassment should be reported and dealt with, he added, “I don’t think she would allow herself to be subjected to that.”
Why it matters (or doesn’t): As Powers notes, Trump’s answer falls short for several reasons. It overlooks the fact that not all women can easily just leave a job. Moreover, it pushes the illegality of harassment off to the side, while placing the burden to rectify the situation on victims of sexual harassment. Eric Trump’s answer, meanwhile, implies that victims of harassment are somehow not “strong.” These sorts of statements matter because they’re liable to alienate women, a group with which Trump already trails badly—57-43 in a recent CNN poll; his unfavorable rating with women is even worse.
The lesson: Don’t blame the victim, especially if the victim is a voter.