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MINEOLA, N.Y. — Heidi Cruz showed no interest in relitigating Donald Trump’s threat to “spill the beans” on her when she greeted supporters at a field office in this working-class Long Island suburb on Monday.
Cruz, the wife Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, instead told the crowd how she’d begun her investment banking career in New York and how pleased she was to return to the state to campaign for her husband ahead of the April 19 primary.
She said nary a word about Trump’s cryptic threat last month that further battered the last thin walls of civility surrounding the 2016 GOP campaign. Nor did she bring up Trump’s retweet of a meme that juxtaposed an unflattering photo of her with a glamor shot of Trump’s wife Melania, a former model.
But many of the spirited and candid women who showed up to greet Heidi Cruz were eager to tell a reporter they hadn’t forgotten what Trump did.
“Terrible, terrible, terrible,” said Hanni Planos of Mineola, when asked about Trump’s social media assaults against Heidi Cruz. “I mean, he’s terrible. No decent man does a thing like that.”
Planos said that she agreed with Trump on many issues and would vote for him in a general election over Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. But Trump’s treatment of Heidi Cruz was a turning point, she said.
“I don’t like nastiness,” Planos said.
Maureen Daly, who heads Cruz’s field office in Mineola, said many of the women who’d offered to volunteer for Cruz recently had cited Trump’s attacks on the candidate’s wife as motivation.
“He has no respect for women, and for many people coming in, that whole ‘spill the beans’ comment had a big effect,” Daly said. “It is a disgrace. And a lot of people came in and said, ‘No, that is the final line that he crossed. Disgraceful, and we’re not going to allow it.'”
Time and again, Trump has said things that have brushed aside common standards of taste and decency, and time and again he has defied the predictions of his imminent political demise.
And as he maintains a massive lead over Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich in his home state, Trump’s standing among Republican women here remains robust.
In a Fox News poll released on Sunday, Trump earned the backing of 49 percent of female Republican voters in New York — a significant drop from the 59 percent of GOP men he was winning in the state — but more than enough to maintain his commanding lead overall.
Trump’s abysmal standing with female voters is a consequence of many factors. But the conservative women who came to see Heidi Cruz said they had been particularly appalled over his onslaught against her.
“When he did that, he totally distracted from the truth because he can’t argue facts,” said Ryan Boulton, a stay-at-home mother from Huntington, who attended the Cruz event with her four young children. “The president of the United States, the leader of the free world, you have to have class … I mean, that’s like a 14-year-old.”
Boulton emphasized that she is not “one of those sensitive people to call the ‘offensive police’ all the time.” But she said she would vote for a third-party candidate or write-in someone’s name if Trump wins the Republican nomination.
“I have voted for many Republicans that I’ve kind of held my nose for,” Boulton said. “But I could not in good conscience vote for him because of character. And people say, ‘You’re wasting your vote, or it’ll be Hillary.’ You know what? I have a conscience, and I’m going to do the right thing.”
Just how damaging to Trump’s campaign was his self-inflicted attack on Heidi Cruz?
Trump’s own admission to The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd that it had been a mistake was both an exceedingly uncommon moment of self-reflection, as well as an even rarer acknowledgment of the extent to which he’d damaged himself politically.
And the wounds remain highly visible in conversations with women like Barbara Schaffer of Lindenhurst. Schaffer said that she had not yet committed to supporting Cruz and was still exploring her options. But Trump’s attacks on Heidi Cruz were the final straw, she said.
“I’m all for taking care of us first and taking care of the border and all of that, but I just — he’s too much of a ‘Jerry Springer Show,’” Schaffer said of Trump. “I don’t even want to look at him.”
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
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