Trump won Pennsylvania, a state of 12.8 million residents, by fewer than 45,000 votes, about the population of Altoona. The president’s reelection campaign chose to launch the 2020 Women for Trump coalition in suburban Philadelphia. The setting was a meeting room in vote-rich — and monetarily rich — Montgomery County, which went for Clinton in 2016.
The gathering featured daughter-in-law Lara Trump, who is married to Eric Trump, and bae-in-law Kimberly Guilfoyle, who dates Donald Trump Jr.
Lara Trump, a Fox stalwart, anchors campaign videos designed to look like news briefs. Guilfoyle, a former fifth of Fox’s “Five” and first lady of San Francisco (when she was married to Democrat Gavin Newsom), came out with pistols blazing, playing fire to Lara Trump’s nice.
Lara Trump is the campaign’s Ivanka. She’s the statuesque loyal surrogate who works the trail.
The former “Inside Edition” producer is credited by the campaign with helping deliver her native North Carolina for Trump in 2016. Tuesday, eight months pregnant with her second child on the penultimate day that her physician allowed travel, she was the morning’s star and centerpiece.
“Everyone is out to get him. They sure haven’t made it easy for him or anyone in our family,” she said. “It was not easy for him to give up his life. He gets bashed every single day.” She shared that in her home of Manhattan — booed by the crowd — people surreptitiously tell her, sometimes in near whisper, that they support the president.
The rally was a gathering of Trump campaign all-stars. They were familiar to his voters, almost all of them female. Pastor Paula White gave the invocation. Former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi stood in front greeting fans, smartphone cameras and the rows of VIPs.
A panel discussion featured Lara Trump, campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany, tea party activist Katrina Pierson, former White House director of strategic communications Mercedes Schlapp and, the lone male dignitary, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale.
Internet-video Trump enthusiasts Diamond (Lynnette Hardaway) and Silk (Rochelle Richardson) entered the meeting room to hoots and hollers. They were deluged with requests for selfies. The duo was granted VIP treatment and front-row seating and cited frequently by Lara Trump as essential campaign weapons in North Carolina.
An impassioned Guilfoyle charged that Democrats suffer from “Trump Derangement Syndrome” with “irrational emotional outbursts and complete mental breakdowns.”
By contrast, “we have a glow to our skins by being positive,” Guilfoyle said. “Their party is angry and bitter.” Republican women will win, she said, “because nothing melts a snowflake faster than a strong woman who clings to her Bible and guns.”
Other themes of the event: Socialists are coming for our country, and the mainstream media gets everything wrong.
“If you ask me, it’s the Democrats that are having trouble with women,” Guilfoyle said of recent disagreements between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and four freshman congresswomen. “Oh, boy, you’ve got a few of them getting a little unruly and giving Mama Pelosi a hard time,” she added, labeling them “The New Housewives of D.C.”
The crowd was assured repeatedly that the president and his policies support women.
“Donald Trump doesn’t see color. He doesn’t see race. He doesn’t see gender,” Pierson told the crowd. “He just sees people that he loves.” To this, a woman in the back, who gave her name only as Linda, rose and yelled, “Gays for Trump.”
“He’s a strong man. I think he’s sometimes misinterpreted,” said Margie Jardine before the speeches. The Downingtown, Pa., teacher was sporting not one but two Trump T-shirts, one that read “adorable deplorable.” She likes Trump because “he’s very passionate. He’s very aggressive. A lot of women don’t like that aggression.”
The gathering was rich with Ivanka-Bes, many working for the campaign, ectomorphs with sumptuous long tresses, in tight shift dresses and vertiginous heels.
“The other politicians are pandering to women. He’s pandering to no one,” said Erin Elmore, a lawyer from Philadelphia and former “The Apprentice” contestant, wearing red, white and blue pumps and carrying a “conservative clutch” she made that read “Make America Great Again.” Being a Trump supporter in very Democratic Philadelphia is “horrible. I have to be very careful.”
Nancy Fields of Lake Harmony, Pa., admires the president’s style. “Other candidates walk on eggshells. They don’t want to ruffle people’s feathers. I love that he’s bombastic and to the point,” she said. “I could do with a little less unnecessary chaos. I think that’s what turns a lot of people off.”
Maureen Scheuerman of Media, Pa., was decked out in a flag dress and espadrilles, stars on her left shoe, stripes on her right. “Am I happy with all the things he says? No. Am I happy with all the things my husband says? No,” she said. “I do wish someone would take his phone away.”
She was not alone in this sentiment. Several fervent admirers, appreciative of the president’s policies, suggested Trump give Twitter a rest.
“We came for the merch,” said Jaclyn Martz, a nurse from Woodstown, N.J. “We were going to buy merch and leave.”
“Women like to buy things,” said Heather Dolbow, a university adviser from Pennsville, Pa. The two of them wore matching black Trump T-shirts.
There was no merch. Martz and Dolbow stayed.
At the event’s conclusion, Diamond and Silk took the stage and microphone.
“The left is playing the race card. The left is playing the sex card,” Diamond said. “We’re going to play the Trump card. Get all aboard the Trump train! Choo choo!”
And the crowd erupted in a delirious chorus of train whistles.