Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the fourth-highest ranking Republican in the House, took issue with Donald Trump’s controversial statements about women during a town hall event Wednesday.
McMorris Rodgers, who chairs the House Republican Conference, was asked about Trump’s statements regarding Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, and others, which critics have labeled sexist. Trump has also received scrutiny for implying years ago that sexual assault in the military should be expected.
"Across the board, absolutely this is wrong and inappropriate," McMorris Rodgers said at the SheKnows Media online town hall event Wednesday. "By no means is sexual assault in the military allowed. … It has been our priority to make sure that we are taking steps to protect women."
The GOP congresswoman went on to suggest that Trump’s negative comments are not what the Republican Party needs.
"I believe the Republican Party–and what I want as an elected official–is to present a positive and opportunity message to the country," McMorris Rodgers said.
"We believe in the potential of every person," she continued. "That is what drives me as an elected official."
Trump, who has stood atop the GOP presidential field for months in national polls, has invited considerable attention from the media for his controversial statements about Mexicans, Muslims, women, and others.
After Megyn Kelly questioned him about his depiction of women during a primary debate last August, Trump said she had "blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her–wherever" during a televised interview. Later, Trump called Kelly a "bimbo" on Twitter.
He also mocked fellow GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s looks during an interview with Rolling Stone published last September. Critics have also pointed to a 2013 tweet about sexual assault in the military as evidence of Trump’s sexism.
26,000 unreported sexual assults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2013
McMorris Rodgers took questions about Trump and other topics during the town hall Wednesday, which was organized to kick of Women’s History Month. She was joined by fellow Republican Reps. Kristi Noem (R., S.D.) and Mimi Walters (R., Calif.).
Noem, who backed Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) for the GOP presidential nomination, commented on Trump’s massive victory on Super Tuesday, which saw him winning seven states.
"I think he has tapped into emotions and the frustration and obviously he is outside of the political system and people think that we need a fresh [leader in the White House]," Noem said.
She blamed the anger that Americans feel toward Washington on the "divisiveness" in today’s politics, calling for Republicans and Democrats to work together more often.
"The divisiveness in politics is ugly and I think it’s one of the reasons we are seeing the anger coming from the American people," Noem, who co-chairs of the bipartisan Women’s Caucus, said.
Noem cautioned that despite Trump’s substantial delegate wins on Super Tuesday, there are still important primary contests to come.
"There’s time left here in this primary season," she said."We’ve got Super Tuesday in the rear view mirror, but we've got March 15 coming up."
The congresswomen covered a range of topics during the town hall, spotlighting Republican solutions to improve health care, the economy, and national security. Ahead of the event, SheKnows media fielded questions from readers to ask the lawmakers. The town hall was moderated by the executive editorial director for SheKnows and BlogHer.
UPDATE 5:54 P.M.: An earlier version of this article quoted McMorris Rodgers as saying, "I believe the Republican Party–and what I want as an elected official–is to present a positive and opportunist message to the country." In reality, she said, "I believe the Republican Party–and what I want as an elected official–is to present a positive and opportunity message to the country."