Some of President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign advisers are split over whether to bring the topic of transgender issues into the campaign, Politico reports.
Several advisers including Donald Trump Jr., Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Penny Nance, who serves on the “Women for Trump” advisory board, say Trump should speak up on the topic in order to win over some support from suburban women and independent voters, according to Politico.
But Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner are among those who disagree. Politico reports that those opposed to Trump speaking out on the topic are fearful the discussion could be political suicide. One source told the magazine it will allow Biden’s camp to call them bigots.
Injecting transgender issues into a campaign is something conservative activist Terry Schilling did in Kentucky’s gubernatorial race.
In order to help Republican candidate Matt Bevin gain more support, he ran a series of ads showing a teenage boy winning a high school girls' wrestling competition and a boy winning a girls' track race. He asked voters one question: “Is this fair?”
The campaigns painted Democrat Andy Beshear as someone who supports boys competing in girls' sporting events.
Bevin lost the race, but by a much narrower margin, according to Schilling. He said that same approach can help Trump win over some more votes.
“What we found was the sports issue got the most powerful response from people, specifically conservative Democrats and independents,” Schilling told Politico. “We wanted Bevin to win, but more than anything, we wanted to test this out before trying it at a much larger scale. Now, donors understand that although we came up a few votes short in Kentucky, this can still work. This is persuasive.”
He will be debuting two ads in Michigan next week from his think tank American Principles Project that claim former Vice President Joe Biden supports “gender change treatments for minors,” including surgery and hormone therapies for transgender youth.
In one of the ads, former drag queen Kevin Whitt warns that children “need time” to develop a stable sense of their gender. “As a young teen, I felt I should be a woman,” Whitt states. “Seventeen years later, I felt I should be a man again. Treatments to change the gender of a minor are very dangerous and irreversible.”
“The Democratic Party has run circles around us without any opposition because the vast majority of Republicans shy away from these issues in favor of business and tax topics,” Schilling said. “What I’m hoping is that once we release these ads and numbers start to move, the Trump campaign will see it’s a powerful issue that the Republican Party can use to its success.”
But Schilling’s research hasn’t won over all of Trump’s inner circle. He said he hasn’t made a pitch directly to Trump’s campaign team either.
The first openly transgender delegate to attend the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016 told Politico she doesn’t think Schilling’s plan of using transgender issues against Biden will work.
“I don’t think it’s going to work,” Jennifer Williams said. “Four years ago, they were trying to scare everyone by saying young children and women were going to be assaulted in restrooms. That never happened.”
Trump hasn't stayed away from the topic completely. He implemented a policy that restricts military service by transgender soldiers.
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