- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2016

EXTON, Pa. | Now they’re really not voting for him.

Republican women in the Philadelphia suburbs already skeptical of Donald Trump say he’s lost any chance of getting their vote after the latest revelations of his lewd conduct — and his unconvincing efforts at an explanation.

“How many times is he going to apologize?” said Wendy Cox, a registered Republican, adding that she’s forced to consider voting for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the presidential election because at this late date — 27 days until the election — no matter what happens, she’s done with Mr. Trump.

“I’d like to vote for him but he’s so rude,” said the 65-year-old chef.

Throughout the campaign, Mr. Trump has trailed Mrs. Clinton with support from women in battleground and national polls, although he has had the advantage with men.

These added defections from Mr. Trump in the Philadelphia suburbs further frustrate his plan to put Pennsylvania in the red column for the fist time since 1988, which is the linchpin of his strategy to cobble together wins in Rust Belt states to capture the White House.

Without a win in Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump’s path to the White House becomes so narrow that he must win nearly every other battleground state.

The New York billionaire’s popularity with blue-collar workers gave him the best shot a Republican has had in recent cycles of flipping the Keystone State. But he needed to win over more suburban women and solidify the GOP base in places such Exton, an upscale town in Chester County, one of the vote-rich “collar counties” around Philadelphia that consistently break Democrat.

Chester County is heavily Republican and was the only one of the collar counties where Republican Mitt Romney edged out President Obama in 2012, beating him by half a percentage point in the county, while the president won the state by more than 5 points.

“In Chester County, Trump doesn’t have the Republican base coalesced around him and time is running out,” said Charlie Gerow, a Republican strategist based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The gap in Pennsylvania has only grown wider for Mr. Trump, he said, because of the 2005 video tape that surfaced last week in which Mr. Trump used vulgar language to boast of his sexual exploits.

“It may not be out of reach but the stretch as gotten a lot greater,” said Mr. Gerow.

Inside the Trump campaign, sources said they were not going to shift strategy or adapt Mr. Trump’s message to appeal to women because of the video.

They are convinced Mr. Trump’s message on the economy and national security are universal.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly apologized for the 11-year-old remarks, which included boasting that beautiful women let him kiss and grope them because he is a celebrity. He also talked about a failed attempt to seduce a married woman.

In the video tape, Mr. Trump is heard conversing with “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush aboard a bus en route to a cameo appearance on a soap opera.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly called the remarks “locker room talk.” He offered that explanation during the second presidential debate Sunday, after he shifted attention to some of the women that claim they were sexually assaulted by former President Bill Clinton and then disparaged by Mrs. Clinton.

The “locker room” excuse didn’t satisfy Tracey Rea, a registered Republican in Chester County.

“It just reinforced his egotistical ways that he can do whatever he wants without concern for anybody else,” said the 47-year-old office manager.

She said she tried to get behind Mr. Trump, but now she’s probably voting for Mrs. Clinton, despite harboring deep distrust for the former secretary of state.

Mrs. Rea called Mr. Trump was a “terrible example” for her two daughters, ages 11 and 14.

Donald Trump is the opposite of everything we are trying to teach our children,” she said.

That echoed the message that Mrs. Clinton has hammered home with TV ads in Pennsylvania and other battleground states. The TV ad, which features children watching Mr. Trump’s antics on the stump during the primaries, have been airing for months.

Polls in Pennsylvania have consistently showed Mrs. Clinton topping Mr. Trump. The Real Clear Politics average of recent polls in the state, all of which were taken before the video surfaced Friday, put her ahead of Mr. Trump by 8.6 points, 47.6 percent to 39 percent. The polling average included Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson at 4.8 percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein at 2 percent.

The results of polls taken in Pennsylvania since the video surfaced have not been released.

Mr. Trump continues to enjoy strong support in some of the state’s other Democratic stronghold, in the southwest around Pittsburgh and in the northeast around Scranton. But he will need overwhelming support from Republicans in the states central region and to gain ground in the collar counties.

“It’s why he’s going to lose,” said Mrs. Rea. “He’s going to lose with middle-class women like me. Everyone I know says the same thing.”


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