Donald Trump said Tuesday that women who are sexually harassed in the workplace can take action within their company, leave their employer while still seeking retribution, or quit.
“I think it’s got to be up to the individual,” Trump said in an interview. “It also depends on what’s available. There may be a better alternative; then there may not. If there’s not a better alternative, then you stay. But it could be there’s a better alternative where you’re taken care of better.”
The Republican presidential nominee’s comments came after he drew criticism late Monday for an interview with USA Today in which he said that if his daughter Ivanka were sexually harassed it would be up to her to find a new situation. “I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case,” Trump said.
Trump’s son Eric followed that by saying Tuesday on “CBS This Morning” that “Ivanka is a strong, powerful woman. She wouldn’t allow herself to be, you know, subjected to it.”
That prompted Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox News television host whose sexual-harassment lawsuit against Fox chief executive Roger Ailes led to his ouster, to respond on Twitter.
“Sad in 2016 we’re still victim blaming women. Trust me I’m strong. #StandWithGretchen,” Carlson tweeted. She also retweeted supportive words from others, including author Jenny Han, who wrote: “Anybody who would go up against arguably the biggest name in news media has a backbone made of steel.”
Megyn Kelly, the Fox News anchor Trump attacked after a tough debate last August, simply tweeted, “Sigh.”
Trump’s remarks could further imperil his standing, particularly among female voters, as polls show Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton holding a large lead over Trump with women.
According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released last month, 52 percent of women surveyed preferred Clinton, compared with 38 percent who said they backed Trump. Fifty-six percent of people surveyed said yes when asked whether Trump was biased against women and minorities.
In recent weeks, Trump has defended Ailes, a longtime friend, who was ousted after being accused of sexually harassing at least two dozen women. Trump has also questioned the motives of some of the women.
When asked by The Washington Post whether he would want his daughter to take the same path as Carlson, Trump responded that he would want his daughter to do “what makes her happy.”
When asked why she should have to switch jobs, Trump said: “She doesn’t have to. She can do it either way.”
“Some people would rather change and some people don’t,” he said. “Some people don’t want to be forced to stay in a certain atmosphere.”
He said women can do both — “meaning fight it out but be in a place that’s more comfortable.”
When asked about his father’s initial remarks, Eric Trump said on CBS that sexual harassment in the workplace is an “absolute no-go” and should be addressed and reported.
Eric Trump then said his sister, as a “strong person,” would bring up the matter with her company’s human resources department.
Donald Trump has a long history of making inflammatory remarks about women and their appearances. He has called actress Rosie O’Donnell a “fat pig” and retweeted an unflattering image of Heidi Cruz, wife of Republican primary opponent Ted Cruz, next to a shot of his own wife, Melania, a retired model, with the caption, “These images are worth a thousand words.”
Trump also criticized the appearance of Republican primary opponent Carly Fiorina. “Look at that face,” he told Rolling Stone magazine. “Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”
On his television show, “The Apprentice,” Trump once told a female contestant: “That must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees.”
Katie Packer, a Republican consultant who is a staunch opponent of Trump, said she was appalled by Trump’s assertion that a woman should be the one who leaves a workplace because of unfair treatment.
“Why should a woman walk away?” Packer asked. “Why should that be the option she has? Shouldn’t we all be subjected to fair treatment in the workplace?”
She said she “can’t even count” the number of women she knows who have been subjected to sexual harassment at work, herself included. Packer said that if Ivanka Trump didn’t work for her father, it could happen to her.
“This isn’t about being a strong woman,” she said, noting that many women can’t afford to walk away from their jobs.
“What, Megyn Kelly’s not strong? What she's endured at the hands of this candidate in the past year, she’s not strong?” Packer asked. “Give me a break.”