Iowa Republican women's group names new leader, says it supports Trump

Gwen Ecklund to lead Iowa Federation of Republican Women

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DES MOINES — Two days after its leader resigned because she said she could no longer support presidential candidate Donald Trump, the Iowa Federation of Republican Women on Thursday announced a new leader and stated its support for Trump.

Melissa Gesing, of Brooklyn, on Tuesday submitted her resignation as the group’s president, saying she could no longer honor the group’s mission to elect all Republicans on the ballot because she could no longer support Trump, who she said promotes “racism, sexism and hate.”

Trump has come under intense criticism, including from his own party, since last week’s reports of a 2005 video on which Trump can be heard making lewd comments about using his celebrity status to grope women.

On Thursday, the Iowa Federation of Republican Women announced Gwen Ecklund, of Denison, has been named its new president and that the organization is unified in its goal of electing all Republicans, including Trump and running mate Mike Pence.

“While we find Donald Trump’s comments recorded 11 years ago to be insulting and demeaning, we need to keep our hearts and minds focused on what’s best for our country and not allow emotions to cloud the big picture,” Ecklund said in a news release. “We are fighting for what we believe in, fighting to preserve our conservative values of smaller government, religious freedom, marriage between a man and a woman, sanctity of human life and a strong national defense. The Republican ticket of Trump-Pence will push forward those principles. Hillary Clinton has vowed to destroy them.”

The Iowa Federation of Republican Women is a tax-exempt political group with the goal of electing Republicans to all levels of government.

In a blog post published after she submitted her resignation letter, Gesing wrote that she agonized over her decision to disavow Trump, and that she had serious concerns with Trump from the beginning of his campaign more than a year ago.

“I don’t claim to have the moral high ground, and I don’t claim that any of our candidates are perfect” Gesing wrote. “However, there is a clear line that has been stepped across when candidates fuel racism and sexism and the darkest parts of our minds — over, and over and over again.”

The Trump campaign said it has received support from women since the 2005 video was made public.

“The Trump-Pence Iowa team is encouraged by the outpouring of support among Iowan women for Mr. Trump’s candidacy, specifically over the past week,” Eric Branstad, the state director for the Trump campaign in Iowa and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s son, said in a statement. “Our Iowa Women for Trump coalition has grown during that time as Iowan women continue to reject Hillary Clinton’s corruption, lies and hypocrisy and embrace Donald Trump’s message of making America great again.”

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