With less than a week to go before Election Day, the Trump campaign is doubling down on its pitch to suburban women.
At a campaign rally in Michigan on Tuesday night, the president made that clear.
“Because women, suburban or otherwise, they want security. They want safety. They want law and order. They have to have law and order, and we’re going to do great. And I love women, and I can’t help it. They’re the greatest. I love them much more than the men,” President Trump said to the crowd.
Then the president added a promise meant to cater to women heading to the polls, but instead left many fuming.
“And you know what else? … We’re getting your husbands back to work, and everybody wants it.”
For Elyssa Schmier, 39, who lives in the Detroit suburb of Huntington Woods, the pitch didn’t sit well.
“I think that kind of mentality is a major turnoff to the exact audience he’s trying to get to vote for him,” Schmier said. “The vast majority of households I know of are two-income households. We also have a fair amount of single moms in my neighborhood.”
Schmier, who works for a nonprofit advocating for women, says she was planning on voting for Democratic nominee Joe Biden regardless. Her husband works for himself and the couple’s benefits are provided through her job, so the image Trump is projecting does not reflect her reality.
“It’s not really a surprise,” she said. “But it was really tone deaf in terms of the reality of this exact moment that we’re sitting in because of covid, and who is being impacted by covid. Especially since Black and brown women are being laid off in massive numbers, and then they also are the ones that are on the front lines and putting their own health and bodies on the line.”
Women’s workforce participation is being disproportionately impacted during the pandemic, with women leaving the workforce at four times the rate men did in September. The last time women’s workforce participation was this low was 1986.
Clare Freeman, like Schmier, lives in a state that’s in play — Texas. She was offended by the president’s comments.
The 62-year-old is now divorced, but she was the breadwinner for her family throughout her marriage. As a resident of the Dallas suburbs and a fourth-generation Texan, she lives in a district that seems to be flipping from Republican to Democrat.
“Of all the offensive things he has said, that offended me the most because I was the one who made all the money for my household. I was married for 22 years. My husband struggled to keep a job. I was the breadwinner. I was a soccer mom. I raised two kids. I did all that,” Freeman said.
“I did everything — literally everything — and we lived well,” she said. “My kids had a good childhood because I made it happen for them, not my husband. So it’s just this assumption … he’s so out of touch with reality.”
Freeman’s story is reflective of a growing number of households.
In 2017, 41 percent of mothers were the sole or primary breadwinners in their families, according to a report by the Center for American Progress. An additional 23.2 percent of mothers were co-breadwinners, meaning they contribute to at least 25 percent of the household income.
Updated data from 2018 revealed that 67.5 percent of Black mothers and 41.4 percent of Latina mothers were the primary or sole breadwinners for their families, compared with 37 percent of White mothers, according to Diana Boesch, a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress.
That is the case for Jacqui Kennedy, the senior sales manager at the Ritz-Carlton in D.C., who has been furloughed because of the pandemic.
The Rockville, Md., resident says she was offended by Trump’s comments. As a single, suburban Black woman, she does not see herself reflected in his comments.
“He’s a misogynist. His mind-set is back in the ’50s where the woman stays home and the man works. That’s ridiculous. Especially when you’re speaking to someone who is a single female and head of her household,” Kennedy, 56, said.
“If you’re focusing on getting the men back to work, what does that mean for us?”