DES MOINES — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign launched a push Wednesday to garner the support of Iowa woman voters by touting his plan to make child care more affordable for working families and single mothers.
Nearly 70 members of the Iowa Women for Trump coalition gathered at the state Capitol with Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, House Speaker Linda Upmeyer and other top Republican women to show their solidarity for the Republican nominee, who is locked in a tight race with Democrat Hillary Clinton in a key swing state.
Trump has not polled well among prospective female voters in light of past statements he has made about women, but Upmeyer said she believes that may change as the campaign focuses on issues like security, tax and regulatory policies, school choice and economic stability.
“I think women are certainly beginning to make that shift,” said Upmeyer, a Clear Lake representative. “I think the more they learn about what Donald Trump has in mind, the more confident they become that that’s a good decision.”
Upmeyer said a consistent theme she hears on the campaign trail in Iowa is that Iowans are tired of the status quo, they’re hungry for change and they want to “shake up” Washington by backing a candidate who is not a career politician, like Clinton.
“They’re tired of political elites who seemingly live above the law, laws where others would face penalties or maybe even prison time,” she told a rally outside the Iowa Capitol building. “You can’t be trusted if no one believes what you say and you can’t lead if the rules don’t apply to you.”
Reynolds said Iowa Republicans have the momentum, enthusiasm and determination heading in the build up to the Nov. 8 election, and they support Trump because he has shown himself to be pro-family, pro-child and pro-worker at a time when women have not fared well in the past eight years.
“We are more insecure that we were eight years ago and we’re more vulnerable to terrorism,” said Reynolds, who called Trump “the candidate that stands with women on issues that we care most about.”
As an example, Reynolds pointed to Trump’s child-care plan that would seek to make child care expenses tax deductible for families earning less than $500,000 and proposes to establish tax-free accounts to be used for child care and child enrichment activities. Another provision would guarantee six weeks of paid maternity leave by extending unemployment insurance benefits to working mothers whose employers do not offer that benefit.
Child care is the largest cost holding back working families, Reynolds said, and Trump’s plan would offer more flexibility than existing assistance plans. “He’s elevated the conversation,” she told reporters. “We’ve got to figure our how it’s funded.”
However, Democrats were quick to point out flaws in Trump’s child-care plan that they say surfaced 456 days after he announced his presidential bid and “oozes” with what they called “underlying misogyny” while primarily benefiting the wealthy at the expense of working-class Americans.
“This is Trump’s latest attempt to salvage his disastrous polling numbers among female voters,” said Iowa Democratic Party spokeswoman Monica Biddix. “Trump’s difficulty in securing the female vote stems from a litany of past, misogynistic statements and comments denigrating women and working mothers.”
Biddix said the Trump plan ignores new fathers by providing maternity leave, rather than family leave, and implies that women should be the sole caregiver. The leave policy has no income caps and is only partially paid, they added, which would benefit higher income recipients.
By contrast, she said, Clinton has outlined a comprehensive paid family leave plan that includes leave for new fathers. It benefits all families and ensures the wealthy pay their fair share, she added.
Kate Waters, Hillary for Iowa’s press secretary, said Iowans won’t forget Trump’s “hateful, offensive, and regressive feelings” toward women that have shown he does not respect women or believe they deserve an equal place in America.
Kim Reem, vice president of the National Federation of Republican Women, said women stand with Trump in the quest to make America great again, telling rally participants Wednesday “our presence today reflects two things: our party is coming together, we are unifying and women want Trump.”