As Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in national polls in the wake of his hot mic scandal, CNN spoke with loyal female supporters who are sticking with their candidate.
In a group interview Anderson Cooper 360 aired Tuesday night, CNN’s Dana Bash asked several questions focused on the graphic comments Trump made about women during an off-air discussion with Access Hollywood co-host Billy Bush in 2005.
“How many of you are willing to write this off as locker room banter, as Donald Trump says?” asks Bash of the remarks, which included Trump saying he tried to “f—” then-Access Hollywood co-host Nancy O’Dell and boasting about being able to grab women “by the p—y” because of his fame.
All 10 women raised their hands before explaining their reasoning. “I have two brothers, my dad, military family,” starts off Amy Hillock. “I’ve heard words worse. I’ve seen things worse. The word is a little derogatory. I wish — if he had said it — I wish he had said it a different way, but you know what? He wasn’t saying it to females. He was saying it to men. Locker room, bus.”
“I’d be offended if a man said that in my presence,” explained Michelle Werntz. “I do find the words offensive, but that’s locker room talk. That’s the boys club.”
Bash followed up, alluding to Trump’s “grab them by the p—y” comment and the idea of how stars “can do anything” they want to women. “You don’t think it says anything about him as a person or what he truly believes about women, speaking this way?”
“No, I don’t,” said Dena Miller. “It was just a man being a man in a man’s world, talking to men.”
The timing of Trump’s comments also plays a role for the group. “He was a non-politician,” said Lori Anthony of the businessman and former reality TV star. “He was not in the spotlight, not being scrutinized.”
“It’s a distraction,” said one supporter. “We should really move on.”
Ultimately, the group agreed that they believe Trump respects women. “If you can’t be respectful of women, you can’t raise daughters like he has raised,” said Hillock, referring to Trump’s adult daughters Ivanka and Tiffany. “And those daughters, those girls, are the most self-respected women that I have ever seen on TV.”
That led to Bash asking why Trump would agree with Howard Stern’s declaration that Ivanka is a “piece of ass” during a 2004 interview on the shock jock’s radio show. “What if that was your daughter?” asked Bash. “Would you be OK with that?”
“I would not like that. Not at all,” said Mary Burnham. “But I have to look at the core of the man, the individual, and what his passion is.”
Werntz later added: “If this is the worst dirt they can dig up on this man, then I think he deserves my vote.”
Watch the full interview below.