Some of the surrogates coming to Donald Trump’s defense to halt his sinking appeal with female voters might not be the best representatives for the candidate on such issues.
Trump's prominent supporters have made the rounds to try and mitigate the political damage caused by the growing number of sexual assault allegations levied at the Republican presidential nominee.
But many key Trump surrogates have their own baggage weighing them down. Without a deep bench of surrogates able to deftly discuss women’s issues, the Trump campaign is often left to enlist an army of primarily older, white men who have a mired histories involving sexual indiscretion.
The latest example came Tuesday evening when former House Speaker Newt Gingrich berated Fox News host Megyn Kelly for what he called a media fixation on the sexual assault allegations against Trump.
And the discussion skid off the rails once Gingrich leveled his attacks on Kelly personally
"You are fascinated with sex, and you don't care about public policy,” Gingrich told Kelly in a heated back-and-forth.
The interview served as a reminder of Trump’s own vulgar comments directed at Kelly when he suggested that she was testy while hosting a primary presidential debate because she was on her period.
Trump's attacks on Kelly, a conservative favorite, did not sit well with top Republicans at the time. Still a top Trump aide on Tuesday celebrated Gingrich’s exchange by hitting directly at Kelly, saying she was “totally biased” against Trump and “not very smart.”
Trump is currently trailing Hillary Clinton among women voters by more than 20 points, according to recent polls. His standing among them took a nosedive after the first presidential debate and the prospects only got worse for Trump by mid-October after newly unearthed audio recordings showed Trump bragging about forcibly kissing women and grabbing them by the genitals.
Trump surrogates blanketed the airwaves to diffuse the situation and redirect attention to his opponent’s husband, President Bill Clinton, and his own allegations of sexual deviance that have dated back decades.
But among the top supporters rising to Trump’s defense were two former politicians who themselves have wrestled publicly with issues of infidelity. Both Gingrich and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, like Trump, have each been married three times and accused of adultery at one time or another.
It doesn’t help that the Trump campaign’s new chief executive, Steve Bannon, is also weathering scrutiny over a dismissed domestic-violence case from 1996.
Put together, it makes for a sticky topic of discussion when these surrogates go on television to divert attention away from Trump and onto Clinton or her husband.
Giuliani was caught tongue-tied when pressed by Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd early this month, who asked whether there was a double standard that applied to one candidate but not the other.
“You know, Chuck, the reality is that in both cases, both people have things in their personal lives that maybe if they could redo it, they would do it differently.”
It has been a minefield all around for Republican leaders struggling to have Trump’s back in light of the recordings and subsequent assault allegations. But the uproar over Trump's actions has swept the Republican Party into the fold, making it difficult for leaders to shed the image of not understanding female voters.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican and Trump supporter, told the Weekly Standard that he would not characterize grabbing a woman by her genitals as sexual assault.
“I think that’s a stretch. I don’t know what he meant,” Sessions said.
Sean Spicer, communications director of the Republican National Committee, responded to the same question in a similar manner, also refusing to nail down a definition to Trump’s remarks in the tape.
“I don’t know, I’m not a lawyer,” he said.
Trump has two weeks before election day to chip away at Clinton's lead in most all national polls. So far his surrogates have done little but hand Trump a shovel to dig himself deeper in the hole with women voters.