12-hundred people turned out at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Cedar Rapids on Saturday for a Donald Trump rally. There were more men in the crowd, but the women who did show up were fully on board with Donald Trump.
As the Iowa caucuses draw near, more women than men remain undecided in the Republican race for President. But this group of Iowa women isn’t wavering.
65-year old Mary Brandt is a childcare worker from Clutier.
“I’m supporting Mr. Trump because he is not an established politician that we’ve had for the last 40 years that have not helped our country at all,” Brandt says, “whether it be Democrat or Republican.”
50-year old Charlene McCoy from Cedar Falls is also a day-care provider.
“I know one of the people on the Trump campaign. I agree with what he says and what he thinks. He says what a lot of us want to say and don’t have the guts to say.”
The women have bachelor degrees or associate degrees. Besides Trump, mostly only Texas Senator Ted Cruz even shows up on their radar.
36-year old Kerry Marzen of Clarksville, mother of three, was there with her like-minded husband.
“It’s actually my husband’s birthday present,” Marzen says. “He’s very excited. I’ve already been to see Trump in Waterloo. He wasn’t able to go so I brought him here today.”
The women describe themselves as conservative but not very conservative. Several say they favor deporting immigrants in the country illegally, and they question global warming.
Trump struck that note to a jeering crowd.
“Don’t forget Obama said global warming is the single biggest threat to this country,” Trump says. “I just turned the television off. I can’t stand listening to it anymore.”
That resonates with Mary Brandt.
“I believe it is a money making issue for alternative energies,” Brandt says.
One by one the women say national security is important for them because of their children. Many favor Trump’s call to keep Muslims out of the country.
Some said it’s simplistic to call Trump a racist. But 57 year old music teacher Jane Biddick of Marion thinks he’s off-track on his plan to ban Muslims.
“There’s no really way to know a Muslim from a non-Muslin so I don’t think that could be carried out,” Biddick says. “I think it’s unrealistic.”
Biddick admires Trump’s conquests in the business world.
“Somebody who’s been as successful as he has says a lot,” Biddick says.
Several of the women have never attended an Iowa caucus, and say they will try to attend in February. Dianne Bystrom at the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and politics at Iowa State University says that’s important.
Bystrom says research at ISU shows when you poll only those who’ve voted in primary elections in the past, other candidates do better than Trump.
“So that’s the question whether he can get these outsiders out on caucus night to support him,” Bystrom says. “The other thing is that the Republican caucuses are male-dominated,” Bystrom adds.
In the past, 56 percent of Republican caucusgoers were men and only 44 percent were women. Bystrom says while candidates may target women, it’s the male vote that skews things.
Trump can’t be accused of pandering to women. He’s made comments about women that many find offensive.
That doesn’t worry Jane Biddick.
“I know he and Rosie O’Donnell have a lot of fun with each other going back and forth,” Biddick says. “I always think that people who are insulted by things have taken it out of context.”
Others say they don’t think Trump means those things about all women.