Snapshots: Clinton’s gender helps, hurts, poll finds

There’s no “glass ceiling” keeping a woman from the presidential nomination anymore, but most Americans still think Hillary Clinton’s gender will influence the November election. They’re just divided on whether it’s more of a curse than a blessing.

According to a new poll from the Associated-Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, most Americans see Clinton’s gender playing a role in the campaign, with 37 percent saying her gender will help her chances of being elected president, 29 percent arguing it will hurt her, and 33 percent thinking it won’t make a difference.

“I think it will help her in a way because we haven’t had a woman before,” said Nayef Jaber, 67, of San Rafael, California. “Israel had Golda Meir and Britain had the Iron Lady (Margaret Thatcher). ... Women can do the job as well as men and even better. Let’s give her a chance.”

In contrast, critics say many of Trump’s attacks on Clinton look like gender bias. Trump has called Clinton weak and has recently started questioning her stamina. He has also complained about Clinton’s voice, questioned her appearance and said she is playing the “women’s card” to win.

Women have made strides in elected office in the United States, but still have not clinched the top job. The latest poll numbers show that many Americans still think women have fewer opportunities in politics compared to men.

Most Americans think women are tough enough to handle the challenges facing a president, but the poll shows that some remain unconvinced. Overall, 75 percent of Americans say they think men and women make equally good political leaders, while 17 percent think men make better leaders and 7 percent say women do.

Trump: Deportation ‘tough’

Donald Trump defeated 16 rivals in the Republican primaries by being the most anti-immigrant of them all, promising to build a giant wall on the border and deport millions. He labeled opponents like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio as weak and amnesty-loving, and his extreme rhetoric pushed the entire debate over immigration to the right.

But suddenly, Trump is sounding like some of the people he defeated. In an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” show Wednesday, Trump talked about how tough it is to break up families for deportation, suggesting that maybe upstanding people who’ve been in this country for years should be allowed to stay if they pay back taxes and insisting, just as Bush and Rubio were repeatedly forced to do, that such actions would not amount to “amnesty.”

“Everywhere I go I get the same reaction. They want toughness. They want firmness. They want to obey the law,” Trump said. “But they feel that throwing them out as a whole family when they’ve been here for a long time, it’s a tough thing.”

As often with Trump, his exact meaning was murky. And it was unclear if he was unveiling a new stance on immigration or simply trying out some new rhetoric to appeal to a general election audience as he lags Democrat Hillary Clinton in polls 11 weeks before the election. His new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, insisted on CNN Thursday morning that “nothing has changed in terms of the policies.”

Yet at a minimum, Trump’s new language seemed to reveal an awareness that his unyielding stance against immigrants is unlikely to get him to the White House, with Latinos voting in ever-greater numbers in key states.

Clinton, speaking on CNN, dismissed Trump’s shifting language as “a desperate effort to try to land somewhere that isn’t as devastating to his campaign as his comments and his positions have been up until now.”

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who published a book called “In Trump We Trust,” reacted with angry tweets to Trump’s comments on Fox, including remarking sardonically “Well, if it’s ‘hard,’ then never mind.”

From Detroit News wire services