After inexplicably calling off his brief feud with Ted Cruz during last week’s GOP debate, Donald Trump was left bereft of a rival to mock. But Trump quickly found a new target when Hillary Clinton said during Saturday night’s debate that Trump’s Islamophobic remarks are being used in ISIS recruitment videos. Or, to be more precise, she called him “ISIS’s best recruiter,” and said, “They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.”
The distinction is important because the Trump and Clinton camps spent the last two days arguing about whether such an ISIS recruitment video exists. Trump called Clinton a liar on various Sunday shows, and Clinton aides tried to walk her statements back. Her spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri said Clinton “didn’t have a particular video in mind,” and the campaign pointed to recent comments from Rita Katz of the SITE Intelligence Group. Katz, an authoritative source on ISIS’s social-media activities, said jihadists “follow everything Donald Trump says,” because it supports their claims that America hates Muslims. Later she clarified that, “ISIS didn’t feature Trump in a video, but ISIS supporters and recruiters have used Trump’s rhetoric to promote ISIS’ ideas and agenda.”
So on Monday, the debate raged on. PolitiFact labeled Hillary’s claim that ISIS is “using Trump for recruitment videos,” as false, and Mediaite noted that’s not what she said. (Meanwhile, Trump won PolitiFact’s award for “Lie of the Year,” with the site rating 76 percent of his examined statements false.) Then Trump repeatedly demanded an apology:
Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon responded, “Hell no. Hillary Clinton will not be apologizing to Donald Trump for correctly pointing out how his hateful rhetoric only helps ISIS recruit more terrorists.” Then Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta went on his own Twitter rant:
When Matt Lauer pointed out that Trump had talked about videos that didn’t exist — the ones showing thousands of Muslim-Americans cheering after 9/11 — he responded, “I’ve been totally exonerated from that, I’ve had headlines exonerating me and saying ‘Trump was right.’”
So the two campaigns were at a standstill: Trump wanted Clinton to say she’s sorry, her team refused, and no one was paying attention to the campaign squabbling anymore. Having failed to generate type of outrage his campaign thrives on, on Monday night Trump resorted to an old strategy: saying something sexist.
Before an audience of about 7,000 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Trump first complained that Clinton was late returning to the debate podium after a commercial break, reportedly because she was waiting to use the bathroom. “Where did Hillary go? They had to start the debate without her. Phase two. Why? I know where she went. It’s disgusting. I don’t want to talk about it. It’s too disgusting. Don’t say it, it’s disgusting.”
Maybe he just meant that the discussion of what one does in the restroom offends his delicate sensibilities? Nah. Next he converted a crude noun into a verb to describe Clinton losing the Democratic nomination to Obama in 2008. “She was favored to win and she got schlonged,” he said. “She lost. I mean, she lost.”
As Think Progress explains, “‘Schlong’ is a well-known reference to a man’s genitals. There are no alternative definitions for the word, according to Merriam-Webster.”
At the same event, Trump announced the widely known fact that he hates many journalists. However, he added that he “would never kill them.”
This is not the first time he has used “get schlonged” as a synonym for “lose an election in a spectacular fashion,” as the Guardian points out. Back in 2011, he told the Washington Post that he “watched a popular Republican woman not only lose but get schlonged by a Democrat.”
The Clinton campaign later responded to the incident by saying it was going to decline to comment on the use of “degrading language.”
Unsurprisingly, Jeb Bush, whose new hobby is finding new, dad-approved ways to insult Trump, chimed in. While campaigning in New Hampshire, Bush said, “Just imagine him as president at a press conference. There has to be a level of decorum to win. It’s not a sign of strength to insult people with profanity. It’s not a serious thing.”
This isn’t the first time Trump has made sexist comments about Clinton, or other women. He recently told Barbara Walters that Clinton doesn’t “doesn’t have the strength or the stamina,” to be president, though at 69, he’s a year older than her. As the Washington Post points out, Trump allegedly told a lawyer at a deposition that she was “disgusting” after she asked for a break to pump breast milk. And who can forget Trump’s remark that Fox News’s Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever”? That fight dragged on for weeks, so with a steady stream of gross comments about female bodily functions, Trump should be able to keep up his Clinton feud for quite a while.
According to a new Quinnipiac University poll, 50 percent of voters would be embarrassed if Donald Trump became president. Thirty-five percent say the same about Clinton.
This post has been updated throughout.