WASHINGTON: US presidential candidates aspiring to occupy the White House Oval Office usually campaign on the basis of issues. In 2016, gender is trumping agenda, with personalities looming larger than policies. Donald Trump's trash-talk about women, plentifully chronicled in his past, and Hillary Clinton's tough temperament in enduring her husband's alleged peccadilloes, are now meat-and-drink for a slavering media in an election campaign where nothing and no one appears sacrosanct. Not even dead people.
Over the weekend, Trump walked backed on talk that he lusted after princess Diana and could have "nailed" her, as he sought to sanitise his rampantly misogynistic trash-talk from yesteryears. Rumours of him wanting Diana to be his "ultimate trophy wife" were false, Trump said, clarifying to Piers Morgan that he had "no interest from that standpoint," and that he met her only once and thought she was "lovely."
Trump also lashed out at the NYT for exaggerating or falsifying the testimony of women it spoke to in its portrait of his past sexist outlook, even as one of the interviewees herself challenged the paper's interpretation of her remarks.
All this came even as the Clinton campaign advanced its ad campaign against Trump with two commercials ad-libbing his most misogynistic remarks, including "she had blood coming out of her... wherever" comment about Fox anchor Megyn Kelly.
Despite the past antagonism, Trump and Kelly got together again for an interview that will air on Fox News. In excerpts released so far, Trump suggests that Kelly, and anyone else affected by his bullying, should get over it and fight back. In her previews, Kelly says Republican women have warmed a little to Trump, but his unfavourables even with women are still high and he needs to do better than Mitt Romney who lost to President Obama by 11 points with women. In an effort to mitigate this, Trump is said to be considering former Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.