Nine female leaders from Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party on Sunday denounced crass comments Donald Trump made about women on a recently discovered 2005 video clip. Gathered at a news conference, the women legislators said it's too late for Republican leaders in Minnesota or elsewhere to distance themselves from their party's presidential nominee, as several have done.
"The Republican Party and its elected officials embraced him, they enabled him and they fueled his hatred, bigoted, misogynistic comments for months," said Ken Martin, Minnesota's DFL Party chairman, in his opening remarks.
They "act surprised, as if this were the first time they were confronted with his completely unacceptable behavior," said Martin, who accused GOP leaders of giving Trump a pass.
Legislators present at the DFL's St. Paul headquarters included Rep. JoAnn Ward and Sen. Susan Kent, Woodbury; Reps. Sandra Masin and Laurie Halverson, Eagan; Sen. Sandy Pappas, Reps. Alice Hausman and Erin Murphy, St. Paul; Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, Minneapolis; and Rep. Peggy Flanagan, St. Louis Park.
Though Trump's campaign has been filled with inflammatory comments, his remarks on the video — part of a conversation with Billy Bush, then a host on "Access Hollywood" — crossed a line, Pappas said.
"It's nothing less than violence against women," she said.
Trump apologized early Saturday for the remarks but also said the recording was a distraction and that former President Bill Clinton's extramarital affairs were far worse.
While some Republicans, like U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, denounced Trump's words over the weekend, comments made by Minnesota's Republican politicians and candidates aren't far off, said several of the DFLers. Pappas mentioned a joke made by Eighth District congressional candidate Stewart Mills on Facebook about battered women.
"We have 30 days to ensure that women, men and frankly our children see what real leadership looks like and what it means," Flanagan said.
Halverson noted that the Trump tape had led to thousands of women sharing their sexual assault experiences on social media. The comments of some Republicans, she said, are part of a culture that makes such assaults possible.
"We are going to raise our standard in terms of the way women are talked about in this country," Halverson said.
She went on to answer another question by saying that former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's phrase to describe Trump's comments — "bad boy locker room talk" — was disrespectful to men because it assumed all men speak offensively about women.