Donald Trump insists he respects women and claims his past criticisms of their appearance were purely “for the purpose of entertainment.”
In an interview for Las Vegas’ KSNV-TV taped on Wednesday, reporter Jim Snyder asked Trump: “You have two beautiful daughters past their teenage years — can you understand the concern from parents of younger girls that some of your comments could be hurtful to girls struggling with body image and the pressure to be model-perfect?”
“Sure I do. And you know, a lot of this is done in the entertainment business. I’m being interviewed for Apprentice long before I ever thought in terms of running for office,” Trump replied, according to a transcript shared by CBS News’ Sopan Deb.
“But a lot of that was done for the purpose of entertainment,” Trump added. “I can tell you this: There’s nobody that has more respect for women than I do.”
“Are you trying to tone it down now?” asked Synder.
“It’s not a question of trying, it’s very easy,” said Trump, whose cameos in several vintage Playboy videos have recently surfaced.
Trump has come under fire throughout his campaign for his past — and present — attacks on women. Most recently, the GOP nominee responded to Hillary Clinton’s comments in the first presidential debate that he called women “pigs, slobs, and dogs” — and that he body-shamed former Miss Universe Alicia Machado — with essentially more of the same. During the debate, he shot back that Rosie O’Donnell, whom he previously called a “fat pig,” “deserves it,” and in the days following he renewed his attacks on Machado’s appearance, saying on Fox and Friends that she “gained a massive amount of weight.”
Then, in a famous 3 a.m. tweet storm, Trump criticized Machado again and said she had a sex tape, a claim that does not appear to be true.
Brian Reich, a communications strategist who worked for Vice President Al Gore in the White House and during his 2000 presidential campaign, told PEOPLE Trump’s continued attacks on Machado could hurt his chances with women voters, young voters and “anyone who feels marginalized in this country.”
“It calls attention to his temperament,” Reich said. “He arguably looks sexist and like a bully for continually picking on a seemingly innocent person. He also seems unable to rise above a relatively minor issue and stay focused on the larger issues facing the country. I don’t think voters want a president who gets so easily distracted, especially when the issue doesn’t really relate to our daily lives.”