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Assault on America, Day 72: GOP & Trump need women--and everyone else--to win big in 2020

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Do Republicans have a woman problem?

We’re not talking about a #MeToo conundrum. Certainly a few party members have gone over the harassment line (Bob Packwood, anyone?) at various times, but the vast majority of elite workplace sexual predators are liberals and Democrats these days. Harvey Weinstein, Les Moonves and Matt Lauer wouldn’t be caught dead at a GOP function -- their prurient appetites found a much more receptive atmosphere on the other side of the political aisle.

But fair analysis of recent election returns and polls suggests Republicans are losing ground to Democrats with fair sex (can we still say that?) voters. Some noticed the party’s congressional numbers are dwindling and hope to reverse course. David M. Drucker wrote at The Washington Examiner, “Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., is pushing fellow Republicans to admit they have a problem and thoroughly re-evaluate their approach to women voters, warning colleagues in Washington that a rocky relationship with this critical bloc is hobbling the party and could prove costly in 2020...

“Stefanik said the lack of Republican women in the House is exacerbating the problem — more so, she seems to think, than Trump. So few women, literally a baker’s dozen, has translated into just one woman in senior leadership, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and just one woman serving as the top Republican on a major committee, Rep. Kay Granger of Texas on House Appropriations...

“[Stefanik] relinquished her post as the Republican in charge of candidate recruitment for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the House GOP campaign arm, and formed a new political action committee, Elevate PAC. The group plans to play in contested primaries strictly on behalf of female candidates, especially in seats drawn to elect Republicans.”

You can’t fault Stefanik for identifying what appears to be a challenge and striving to do something about it. Though by specifically targeting certain primary races because of a woman candidate’s presence -- instead of what the contenders actually stand for -- you run the risk of defeating a more qualified and electable man (or men) just because of gender.

Isn’t this what Democrats do?

Anytime the swampy political establishment injects itself into local primaries it raises red flags, because with the ruling class it isn’t just about electing more women -- it’s about defeating solid conservatives. There are numerous examples of good women candidates who didn’t receive establishment backing and went on to lose because there wasn’t sufficient money or party machinery to reinforce them.

Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell defeated wishy-washy Republican Rep. Mike Castle in her state’s 2010 U.S. Senate primary but then saw party bigwig support evaporate literally overnight and lost a very winnable race against Democrat Chris Coons (for Joe Biden’s former seat). The embittered Castle wouldn’t endorse O’Donnell and the media used the schism to discredit her -- and national swamp dwellers like Karl Rove piled on. She didn’t have a chance.

We also shouldn’t forget Stefanik’s isn’t the first woman-led party effort to identify and bolster more female Republican candidates. John McCain’s running mate, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, launched SarahPAC in 2009 (it shut down at the end of 2016) intending to foster more outsider conservative women who shared Palin’s independent spirit and “Mama Grizzly” mentality. Palin didn’t believe women needed to be liberal or radical abortion-loving feminists to stand on their own and take care of themselves. She was right.

Fierce resistance from the GOP establishment and Palin’s own personal problems led to her demise to the point where she’s all-but disappeared from the political radar today -- which is surprising considering Sarah’s previously red-hot media profile and celebrity following the 2008 election. Palin’s heart was in the right place but she couldn’t seem to keep it together -- definitely not attributable to her being a woman. But her enemies would argue it was so.

Is Stefanik correct in asserting Republicans suffer at the ballot box because there aren’t enough GOP women in Congress? It’s highly doubtful anyone checks to see how many female Republican congresswomen or senators there are before deciding whom to vote for. Most conservative primary voters couldn’t care less whether a candidate is a woman or man as long as the person’s principles are verifiable and consistent. Right here in Virginia conservatives picked Tea Party leader Jamie Radtke over former senator and governor (and establishment favorite) George Allen as their 2012 senate candidate… though Allen did win the nomination (and then predictably lost to Tim Kaine).

Likewise, Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn is another instance of a solid conservative woman who overcame intra-party establishment opposition and won her state’s primary and general election last year because of what she believes -- and her record -- not her gender. Over the course of time Blackburn’s forged a reputation as a full-spectrum conservative which earned her suspicion and enmity from the Volunteer state’s GOP party poobahs. Yet she still won.

Looking at it another way, Stefanik is only partially right; perhaps Republicans need more women -- but more true conservative women need to run in primaries. The so-called suburban soccer mom vote is likely a myth. Media pundits argue this demographic was turned off by Donald Trump’s uneven personal history and uncouth public manners, but would they necessarily flock to Hillary Clinton just because she was born female?

Why then didn’t Nevada voters choose quirky but conservative Sharron Angle when she ran a decidedly anti-establishment campaign against the always cantankerous and mean Harry Reid in Nevada in 2010? Why did GOP leaders fear Angle wouldn’t go along to get along if she’d won her outsider campaign against Reid? Is Angle the female equivalent of Alabama’s Roy Moore? Or did the elites think Reid was a better alternative to preserve the big government status quo?

We can only hope American voters aren’t so shallow as to prefer general election candidates based on such flimsy rationales as gender… or race, or religion or sexual orientation… And Democrats have already cornered the market on identity politics, so purposely selecting any primary candidate because of such small innate considerations is a dangerous proposition, indeed.

Besides, Republicans don’t have a “woman problem” as much as they have a RINO establishment dilemma. John Bowden reported at The Hill on one particularly obnoxious member of the RINO species, “During an address in Vero Beach reported by TCPalm.com, [former Speaker Paul] Ryan told attendees that Trump would be unable to win the election based on his personality alone.

“’The person who defines that race is going to win the race. If this is about Donald Trump and his personality, he isn’t going to win it,’ Ryan said, according to the local news outlet.

“Trump, he reportedly continued, needs to define the 2020 race through policy proposals if he wants to defeat Democrats in next year's election.”

What Ryan said isn’t as bad as the reasons why he said it. Of course Trump should be judged on his policies and accomplishments as president rather than on his personality. Every president deserves measurement in this manner, just as every candidate should be evaluated based on his or her platform rather than what (race, gender, religion… etc.) he or she is.

Never one to shy away from stooping low, Ryan clearly intended to dig at Trump through offering such a pessimistic “his personality is awful” vindictive dig. Can you imagine a Democrat saying the same thing about Obama in 2011? Obama hardly enjoyed personal popularity among Democrats, many of who found him aloof and arrogant. But they didn’t dare criticize him.

If the establishment (a.k.a. Ryan) backed Trump the way Democrats boosted Obama, Trump would be a near sure-thing next year.

Debate continues as to the best way to expand the GOP’s “big tent,” but it definitely won’t come through pandering to any specific demographic. Republicans would gain a lot by following President Trump’s example and standing for something and keeping promises. The rest will follow nicely.

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