Donald Trump's accusation that Hillary Clinton is playing "the woman card" to get elected is being fully embraced by her campaign, who blasted back with social media messaging about her record on fighting for women.
"I think the only card she has is the woman's card, she's got nothing else going," the Republican presidential candidate said Tuesday night after winning the day's five primaries in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maryland.
"If Hillary Clinton were a man I don't think she'd get five per cent of the vote. The only thing she's got going is the woman's card," Trump said of Clinton, who added to her lead in the Democratic race by winning four out of those five states over her rival Bernie Sanders. "And the beautiful thing is, women don't like her."
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Trump had made the same woman card comment in an interview earlier in the day, which Clinton's campaign picked up on, crafting a response for her to use during her speech last night.
"If fighting for women's health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card then deal me in!" Clinton said to roaring applause.
Her campaign is now circulating video clips on social media of what Trump said — along with Clinton's retort.
Her Twitter account also responded by writing messages that included: "They might make flashy headlines, but Trump's comments aren't a joke. Hillary can handle these attacks. Millions of women shouldn't have to."
Women still face too many barriers—a president shouldn't be part of the problem. Comments like Trump's set us back.— @HillaryClinton
Trump's comments 'sexist and derogatory'
She's trying to make history by becoming the first female U.S. president and Trump's campaign suggests she plays that up and is counting on it to appeal to female voters. Trump doubled-down on his gender-based criticism of Clinton Wednesday morning during a round of TV interviews.
"She is playing the woman card left and right," he said on CNN. "If she didn't, she would do very poorly."
"She has every right to be attacked on that front. She gets up and all she's saying is 'I'm a woman, I'm a woman,'" Trump said on ABC. He also remarked that Clinton shouts and that he will have to get used to that over the coming months, suggesting they will face each other in the general election.
"And I know a lot of people would say you can't say that about a woman because of course a woman doesn't shout," he said.
Trump's suggestions that Clinton is pandering to women to get their vote, and that she has nothing else going for her other than being a woman, isn't going over well with some. It didn't take long for #womancard to start trending on Twitter, mocking Trump's attack on Clinton.
The head of a non-partisan organization dedicated to encouraging women to get involved in politics said Trump's comments aren't helpful.
"I think the charge that Hillary Clinton's only advantage is the woman card is sexist and derogatory towards all women, regardless of their party affiliation," Erin Loos Cutraro, CEO and co-founder of She Should Run, said in an interview.
"I think that the more that we hear discouraging statements like that, the more it presents an opportunity for us to remind people that we would all be better served if we had more women in elected office," said Cutraro.
"This is our opportunity to step up and say that women's voices need to be heard and need to be at the table."
Trump says comments not sexist, just true
Trump, who has already been criticized by many over comments he made about women, rejected any notion that what he said about Clinton is sexist.
"It's not sexist, it's true. It's just a very, very true statement," he said on Good Morning America.
Tuesday's primary results put both Trump and Clinton much closer to winning their nominations and it's more likely now that they will face off in a general election. If that's the case, this squabble could be just a preview of what is to come.
Trump has won with women voters over his competitors in the Republican field but when it comes to the national electorate he doesn't fare as well, according to polls.
Clinton: I'm not shouting
A Gallup poll released earlier this month showed women had a 70 per cent unfavourable opinion of him. On a matchup between Clinton and Trump in a general election, a Fox News poll put the former secretary of state at 55 per cent among women voters compared to Trump's 33 per cent. A CNN/ORC poll in March put her at 60 per cent over Trump's 33 per cent.
Trump campaign surrogates who were making the rounds on cable TV Wednesday say those numbers will change once his Republican rivals stop attacking him and the establishment wing of the party gives up on trying to bring him down.
In her own Democratic nomination race, Clinton hasn't won as much support from women as some expected she would. Her support among young women in particular is much weaker than it is for Sanders. Earlier in the campaign when Clinton supporter Madeleine Albright, who is also a former secretary of state, said "there is a special place in hell for women who don't help each other," it provoked a backlash from some women and Clinton had do some damage control.
On Wednesday, Clinton continued to respond to Trump's comments about her, using Twitter to quote something she said during a speech in October: "I'm not shouting. It's just when women talk, some people think we're shouting."