Republican frontrunner Donald Trump views politics as just another real estate deal: find a derelict property, demolish it then build something and put the Trump name on the marquee.
The template has made him staggeringly wealthy. But it’s also led him to declare bankruptcy four times, and in politics he’s similarly on his way to going bust, again: he is becoming the Ebola of politics among half the electorate.
Related: Trump's campaign manager has been charged, but his alleged victim is the one being punished
The latest national poll showed that 73% of female voters dislike him, up from 57% in October . This is remarkable, because it would be difficult to imagine nearly three quarters of women, or men for that matter, agreeing on anything that didn’t involve violence or a virus.
But the hatred is well-deserved. Throughout Trump’s entire campaign, he has made it clear that misogyny is his go-to position on women.
His first intemperate outburst was against Fox TV News’s Megyn Kelly when she took him to task for calling women “fat pigs”, “dogs” and various names. That led him to say and tweet a string of nasty comments about her, leading to a temporary falling-out with the network.
Unbowed, he hurled hurtful comments about the appearance of former Republican hopeful Carly Fiorina, and more recently, Ted Cruz’s wife. But the low blows reached new highs this week with his statements about abortion and another abusive woman-hating remark.
He joined the ranks of the Republicans who would roll back the clock to 1973 and ban abortion in an interview Wednesday with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who followed up with a question about whether this meant he would punish women who had obtained illegal abortions.
“The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment, yeah,” he said.
But what about the guy who gets her pregnant, would he be punished too?
“I would say no,” said Trump.
“They’re usually involved,” commented Matthews.
The public pushback was fast and furious and forced Trump to retreat somewhat. Doctors and abortionists would be punished, not women, he said several news cycles later. There remained no mention of the fathers whom he believed were never on the hook in the first place.
This all happened the day after Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was arrested and charged with battery for an incident involving a female reporter at a rally. The reporter said she was manhandled, asked for an apology, got none and went to police.
As usual, Trump stands by his man. He refused to fire him, attempted to discredit the reporter, criticized the police then disputed the legality of the charge.
“It’s outrageous what the police have done. They are destroying a very good person, with four great kids, over nothing,” Trump said. Matthews asked him why he had no sympathy for the reporter – why didn’t his manager simply apologize? Trump shrugged it off. “I don’t have great respect for her,” he said, then speculated he may go to police to have her charged for touching his arm.
Within minutes, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton tweeted : “Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse. Horrific and telling.”
Her rival, Bernie Sanders, commented , “I don’t know what world this person lives in” or, for that matter, the Republican Party itself.
Even fellow Republican John Kasich, who would also ban abortions, said “of course women shouldn’t be punished”. And Trump supporter Ben Carson, admitted that Trump answered the abortion question poorly but said it was because Trump wasn’t expecting it to be asked – an excuse that could only be offered by another candidate as unpresidential as he was.
So far, Trump has reduced the Republican Party to rubble and has yet to erect anything in its place, because he cannot. Asked Wednesday about his abysmal polling results among women, he responded with characteristic self delusion: “The numbers aren’t good, not as good as they were, but nobody respects women more than I do.”
Some respect. Some candidate.