The overall tone of the event was striking, a blend of defiant pep rally and nurturing support group. The PAC’s trio of founders—Amy Kremer, Kathryn Serkes, and Ann Stone (ex-wife of Trump buddy and unofficial adviser Roger Stone)—are all hard-chargers, active in conservative politics and causes. Kremer is a founding mother of the Tea Party movement (who actually worked for, then resigned from, a different pro-Trump super PAC last month). Serkes, a long-time health-care consultant, bragged about being involved in the litigation that helped tank Hillarycare back in the 1990s. (She has been similarly focused on repealing Obamacare.) And Stone (the chairwoman of Republicans for Choice) claims to have worked in politics since she was 12—with a more recent focus on high-level fundraising. (In addition to spearheading Women Vote Trump, Ann Stone sits on the advisory board of the Committee to Restore America’s Greatness, the pro-Trump super PAC run by her ex, Roger.)
Among the morning’s line up of speakers, there quickly emerged a common, nakedly defensive message: that the main reason so many women aren’t embracing Trump—whose unfavorables among women voters hover around 60 percent—is because they’ve bought into some misguided notion of sisterhood-solidarity with Hillary Clinton. Thus, a key theme for the day became: Women are too strong and savvy to fall for that squishy, liberal identity-politics B.S. As Serkes declared, “I’m not going to be told I need to vote for somebody just because she has the same body parts we do!”
At the same time, there was more than a whiff of old-fashioned girliness and victimhood in the air. (The PAC’s logo includes a sweet pink heart wrapped around the “T” in “Trump.”) People constantly gushed about how Trump wasn’t going to let himself or them or America be “bullied.” Stone borrowed a line from conservative pundit Laura Ingraham: “They say Donald Trump is a bully. But he’s a bully for us. He’s bullying back people who have bullied us for years!” Bully this. Bully that. It was like listening to a group of primary-school guidance counselors.
Of particular concern was the need for Women Vote Trump—which, incidentally, will also be handling the coalition-building effort typically run from inside a presidential campaign—to “make it safe” for women to “come out” about their feelings for the Donald. “Some of our speakers are going to talk about that a little bit more,” Serkes assured the audience in her opening remarks. “Because some of this also involves an act of courage!”
And talk they did. Kremer admitted how scared she was initially to tell anyone about her political orientation. “My heart was going toward Donald Trump, but I didn’t want to say anything to anybody because I was afraid of being reprimanded.” And once she came out? “Of course I have been beaten about. I’m still beaten about to this day. But you know what? It doesn’t matter, because you have to stand strong for what you believe in.”