Trump fine-tunes his campaign attack on the #MeToo movement

When President Donald Trump shelved his deference to Christine Blasey Ford and ...

Posted: Oct 4, 2018 8:41 AM
Updated: Oct 4, 2018 8:41 AM

When President Donald Trump shelved his deference to Christine Blasey Ford and went on offense against her Tuesday night at a campaign rally in Mississippi, it sounded new and jarring.

Trump had clearly been working on the material for days, including on at least two occasions with reporters.

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The version that emerged Tuesday night was primed for re-election rallies, and was the clearest indication that Trump will take his disdain for #MeToo onto the campaign trail.

The fine-tuned attack on Ford and warning that emerged for supporters in Mississippi allowed Trump to attack her credibility and criticize her spotty memory on some specifics from the night of her attack compared with her conviction about details of others. That may be a common thread among assault victims, but in Trump's hands she was made to sound untrustworthy.

His comments were direct and harsh pushback against the #MeToo movement, of which Ford has become emblematic and for which Trump, who was accused of assault by more than a dozen women not long before his election, is surely a villain. Trump has denied the allegations.

This latest anti-#MeToo talking point of Trump's arguably started last week with a question from Steven Portnoy of CBS News at a news conference in New York the day before Ford's public testimony.

Trump had already bemoaned what he said was a partisan attack on Kavanaugh and the effect the charges were surely having on the judge and his family.

But Portnoy wanted to know if Trump had a message for young men as the country enters a period where women feel more comfortable coming forward with allegations.

Trump did not say men should respect women, but rather suggested his message to young men was: Be afraid. He said the issue was bigger than the current debate over Kavanaugh.

"This is beyond Supreme Court," Trump said. "This is everything to do with our country. When you are guilty until proven innocent, it's just not supposed to be that way. Always, I heard you're innocent until proven guilty. I've heard this for so long and it's such a beautiful phrase. In this case, you're guilty until proven innocent. I think that is a very, very dangerous standard for our country."

Clearly Trump felt he was on to something with the "dangerous standard" idea, because he riffed on it a few days later, on Tuesday, when he was talking to reporters before getting onto Marine One.

"It is a very scary time for young men in America, where you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of," Trump said. "This is a very, very -- this is a very difficult time. What's happening here has much more to do than even the appointment of a Supreme Court justice."

He added: "It's a very scary situation where you're guilty until proven innocent. My whole life I've heard you're innocent until proven guilty, but now you're guilty until proven innocent. That is a very, very difficult standard. You could be somebody that was perfect your entire life and somebody could accuse you of something."

The message in what he's saying is the same, but he's refined it, economized the words and subbed in "scary time" for "dangerous standard." He's refined the idea to make clearer he thinks men should be afraid of the accusations of women. In both appearances he mentioned the many allegations against him in 2016.

Those two comments teed up the full-force treatment of the new material in Mississippi on Tuesday night, before a roaring crowd of supporters.

"Guilty until proven innocent," Trump lamented, to booing from the crowd. "That's very dangerous for our country. That's very dangerous for our country. And I have it myself all the time. But for me, it's like a part of the job description."

Trump brushed off the accusations by more than a dozen women against himself, ranging from sexual harassment and sexual assault to lewd behavior, as something that should be expected.

"Let it happen to me. Shouldn't happen to him. Shouldn't happen to him," he said, before launching into his attack directly on Ford's memory, after which he added: "And a man's life is in tatters. A man's life is shattered. His wife is shattered. His daughters, who are beautiful, incredible young kids -- they destroy people. They want to destroy people. These are really evil people," he said, although it wasn't exactly clear who he was referring to.

Trump came back to the idea again, driving the point home further and speaking to women who might worry about the men in their lives being accused.

"This is a time when your father, when your husband, when your brother, when your son could do great. 'Mom, I did great in school. I've worked so hard. Mom, I'm so pleased to tell you, I just got a fantastic job with IBM. I just got a fantastic job with General Motors. I just got -- I'm so proud.'

" 'Mom, a terrible thing just happened. A person who I've never met said that I did things that were horrible and they're firing me from my job, Mom. I don't know what to do. Mom, what do I do? What do I do, Mom? What do I do, Mom?' It's a damn sad situation, OK?" Trump said.

Trump again mentioned his own accusations. At this point in the story, the Trump accusations are apiece with the Kavanaugh accusations, in Trump's telling. And they're apiece with the accusations that any man might face.

It's clear, now, by using the material at such length in his Mississippi rally, that Trump is stirring backlash to the national reckoning with sexual harassment, and using that to drive his supporters to the polls. Which means this line isn't going anywhere.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 497790

Reported Deaths: 9917
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34102530
DeSoto31839398
Hinds31837622
Jackson24314377
Rankin21881388
Lee15427234
Madison14525279
Jones13772241
Forrest13412250
Lauderdale11937314
Lowndes10934185
Lamar10470135
Pearl River9431237
Lafayette8454138
Hancock7697126
Washington7365156
Oktibbeha7111129
Monroe6727174
Warren6642176
Pontotoc6609101
Neshoba6606205
Panola6460131
Marshall6386132
Bolivar6266145
Union596094
Pike5784152
Alcorn5633101
Lincoln5417134
George491879
Scott470998
Tippah465381
Prentiss464181
Leflore4627143
Itawamba4596104
Adams4570119
Tate4546109
Copiah445191
Simpson4421116
Wayne438572
Yazoo438586
Covington427394
Marion4216107
Sunflower4215104
Coahoma4115104
Leake407787
Newton380879
Grenada3692108
Stone358464
Tishomingo356391
Attala330289
Jasper328265
Winston313191
Clay306375
Chickasaw296767
Clarke290694
Calhoun277945
Holmes266987
Smith262550
Yalobusha232647
Tallahatchie225251
Walthall217763
Greene215548
Lawrence211140
Perry204755
Amite203954
Webster201645
Noxubee185340
Montgomery179056
Jefferson Davis170642
Carroll167438
Tunica158639
Benton147438
Kemper141241
Choctaw133026
Claiborne131237
Humphreys129038
Franklin119128
Quitman106227
Wilkinson104539
Jefferson94234
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 814025

Reported Deaths: 15179
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1140561910
Mobile722691323
Madison52017686
Shelby37304341
Baldwin37087540
Tuscaloosa34966599
Montgomery33971725
Lee23149240
Calhoun22159470
Morgan20659372
Etowah19764496
Marshall18254300
Houston17310405
St. Clair15921337
Cullman15325290
Limestone15222198
Elmore15086284
Lauderdale14157294
Talladega13723272
DeKalb12574259
Walker11089366
Blount10102174
Autauga9901146
Jackson9793180
Coffee9182189
Dale8864181
Colbert8791200
Tallapoosa7044195
Escambia6743127
Covington6685179
Chilton6592160
Russell626158
Franklin5935105
Chambers5560142
Marion4958126
Dallas4889199
Clarke473482
Pike4720105
Geneva4564126
Winston4476101
Lawrence4266117
Bibb421786
Barbour355675
Marengo334089
Monroe330462
Randolph327663
Butler324894
Pickens313982
Henry311265
Hale309487
Cherokee300057
Fayette290979
Washington251151
Cleburne247058
Crenshaw243775
Clay240767
Macon230762
Lamar217846
Conecuh185652
Coosa178838
Lowndes174161
Wilcox167738
Bullock151744
Perry138040
Sumter131138
Greene125844
Choctaw87027
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Columbus
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