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Trump And Clinton Vie For Female Voters


Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are trying to win support from women in the coming election. Yesterday the presumptive presidential nominees addressed groups important to their party's bases, and that includes many activists who are women. NPR's Sarah McCammon reports on how their pitches are being received.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: After becoming the first woman to clinch a major party's presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton focused her first big speech on the issues she's been talking about for decades


HILLARY CLINTON: Have you ever noticed that the same politicians who are against sex education, birth control and safe and legal abortion are also against policies that would make it easier to raise a child, like paid family leave?


MCCAMMON: Clinton spoke to a supportive audience - members of Planned Parenthood Action Fund in Washington, D.C. She got a warm reception from supporters like Pamela Steed (ph).

PAMELA STEED: A woman's ability to control her reproduction is integral to everything. It's integral to women's ability to earn a living and to impact our economy. And so yes, it seems so incredibly fitting that she's standing there on that stage today.

MCCAMMON: Across town on another stage, Donald Trump was speaking to members of his party's base, social conservatives, with a promise to protect...


DONALD TRUMP: The sanctity and dignity of life.


MCCAMMON: That means opposing abortion rights, a key concern for many in this audience at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's annual conference. He also promised his potential Supreme Court picks would oppose abortion.


TRUMP: And by the way, these judges are all pro-life.

MCCAMMON: The event was co-hosted by Concerned Women for America. Women as a group tend to lean toward Democrats, and Trump has struggled with favorability ratings among women. But white evangelical women, like most of this audience, have voted heavily Republican. Several told me they'll vote for Trump but only because they don't see a better option. Taylor Smith (ph) is a 20-year-old student at the University of Georgia, and she's disturbed by Trump's tone.

TAYLOR SMITH: He's pretty derogatory towards women. He says things that he probably shouldn't say.

MCCAMMON: Smith was holding her not-quite-2-year-old son Branson (ph) in her arms and said her experience of an unplanned pregnancy strengthened her opposition to abortion.

SMITH: I was a senior in high school when I found out I was pregnant with him, and I had a lot of people pushing me to get an abortion.

MCCAMMON: Smith says she's troubled by the fact that Trump once described himself as very pro-choice, but she'd never vote for Clinton.

SMITH: I really wish that, you know, Ted Cruz would've gotten the nomination. But obviously he didn't, so I'm just going to have to take what I can get I guess.

MCCAMMON: Clinton is campaigning in part on her long-standing support for abortion rights.


CLINTON: When Donald Trump says, let's make America great again, that is code for, let's take America backward.

MCCAMMON: Trump did not specifically address women's issues, but at the end of a week where he's been criticized for questioning the fairness of a federal judge based on his Mexican descent, Trump seemed eager to appear magnanimous. He promised to lift up everyone.


TRUMP: Not a certain group - everyone, the whole country. We're going to lift up.


TRUMP: We will make America great again for all Americans.

MCCAMMON: With female voters making up more than half of the electorate, both Clinton and Trump will be working to energize women in each party's base in the months to come. Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Sarah McCammon worked for Iowa Public Radio as Morning Edition Host from January 2010 until December 2013.
Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.