Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington that among her many concerns about Trump is the fact that he’s “doubled-down” on “misogynistic comments” that she said reveal “how he truly feels about women.”

“Yesterday, in an interview, he even had the nerve to make an outrageous comment about one of his fellow candidate’s looks, so I’m sorry, I’m just, I’m not really willing to give Donald Trump credit for very credible, substantive beliefs,” Wasserman Schultz said when asked about his actual policy proposals.

She was referring to a profile of Trump published Wednesday in Rolling Stone, in which he was quoted by the magazine’s reporter as saying: “Look at that face!” as Fiorina appeared on TV. “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”

***

Trump evaded a question from moderator John Dickerson about how human resources at his companies would have handled derogatory comments he made about fellow GOP candidate Carly Fiorina’s face.

He doubled down on his insistence that he was talking about her persona.

“You could call it bad luck, you could call it she did a bad job. But Hewlett Packard was a disaster and Lucent, the company she was at before Hewlett Packard was a disaster,” he said, referring to two companies where she was an executive. He also mentioned her 2010 loss to Democrat Barbara Boxer in California’s 2010 Senate race.

“The problem is we’re so politically correct that we can’t get out of our way so people make statements that all of a sudden the statement’s such a big deal. I’m only talking about her persona. Her persona is just, she hasn’t done a good job,” he said.

***

Fiorina was asked if she believed Trump’s explanation that he was talking about her persona, when he reportedly remarked on her face in a Rolling Stone profile. She answered, [relevant remarks begin around 4:25] “No. But I do accept his comments that he was speaking as an entertainer. And, you know when I was in 3rd grade, Eric, there was a little boy that really liked me, and he said mean things about me and, you know, pulled my pigtails all the time. And my husband and I have been together for over 30 years, but I think I know when someone’s flirting with me.”…

She added, “this isn’t entertainment. This is serious. This is serious. Our nation is at a pivotal point, and Americans know it in their bones. So, it’s very entertaining for us all to talk about Donald Trump, and by the way, the media seems to talk about nothing else but Donald Trump, in many cases, but voters never ask me about him, never. What voters ask me about is how do we get the economy growing? Why is America’s leadership waning in the world? How do we cut this government down to size. Voters know this is a pivotal point. And so I think most people are tuning in because they actually want to know what candidates are going to do.”

***

Just six weeks ago, [Fiorina] was little known outside of Silicon Valley. But an odd combination of her pitch-perfect performance during the first debate and a “Trump bump” in attention after The Donald hurled an unseemly insult her way last week — “Look at that face!” — has made her the unlikely candidate to watch Wednesday night in Simi Valley.

“To the extent she can pin him back and do so in a way that is firm will also reflect on her abilities as a leader,” said political analyst Larry Gerston, professor emeritus at San Jose State University. “If she can pull that off, she will do wonders for her own candidacy and shoot a pretty good dart into his.”…

“It is still very difficult for male candidates to feel comfortable going against and attacking women, with the exception of Donald Trump, but he hasn’t done it to her face,” said political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a senior fellow at the University of Southern California School of Public Policy.

“When they attack a woman candidate, they don’t want to look like they are beating up on a girl,” Jeffe said. “The woman candidate has to be careful in being aggressive that she doesn’t come across as being labeled bitchy or shrill. It’s the reality of politics today.”

***

“Who the hell cares what she looks like? If you want to quibble with her on policy, or quibble with her record at Hewlett Packard, that’s fair,” said Katie Packer Gage, a GOP strategist who worked on Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign and whose firm is now working for Marco Rubio. “But people should not be judged by their appearance.”

There’s already enough pressure on women than to have to deal with this pig who thinks Heidi Klum is no longer attractive because she got a little bit old,” Gage said. “A guy who trades in wives because they get old is what women face every day and are disgusted by. I hate to break it to him, but Melania is going to get old too.”…

“It’s incumbent on all of these candidates, Ted Cruz included, even though he’s currently pressing his lips firmly on Trump’s ass, to call this out and say this isn’t straight talk,” Gage said. “This is rudeness and bad manners and it shouldn’t be condoned. There is an existing problem that women view Republicans as old grouchy white misogynists and we need to do everything we can this cycle to change that; and he’s definitely stopping us in our tracks on that.”

***

Sawyer said she and her husband had been telling each other that as soon as Trump came anywhere near their town, they’d go see him to witness “the energy and positive message.”

“Now, no interest,” Sawyer said. “It was the Carly Fiorina comment. Not that it was that horrible, because he’s said other more horrible things, but I was like, ‘OK, this is third-grade.’ His social skills are just not presidential.”

Several Republican women who participated in the Aug. 23-27 Iowa Poll who were considering voting for Trump in the Feb. 1 caucuses have now changed their minds, they told a Register reporter who checked in with them again last week…

“We are well past the days where you can be disrespectful of women and just call it a joke,” Horn told the Register. “These are not the comments of a strong candidate. These are the comments of a weak candidate.”

***

Q.Some Iowa conservative women say they appreciate Trump’s views on immigration, national security and other topics, but they’re upset about things he says about women. For some, the final straw was when he made fun of your physical appearance, and they’ve now crossed him off their list of choices for the Iowa caucuses. What are your thoughts on that?

[Fiorina:] “I’m gratified by these women’s support. And I’ve always said character is revealed over time and under pressure. I think a litany of comments about many things reveals character over time and under pressure.”

Q. Do you think some of the things Trump says about women really are sexist or are these just schoolyard insults?

A. “This is a person who engages in schoolyard insults to all kinds of people. All kinds of people. It is part of his persona. Some people may like that. They’re entitled. I find it unpresidential.”

***

“I think Donald Trump is an entertainer. And I think I am a leader,” she told reporters after speaking to a crowd at the Strafford County BBQ & Beer Bash in Dover, New Hampshire. “What I do is talk to the American people about the issues that I care about and I think they hear what I’m talking about.”

She confirmed that she does not plan on asking Trump to apologize for his comments because “there’s a long line of people asking him to apologize.”…

Fiorina took seemingly veiled jabs at Trump on Saturday while speaking to New Hampshire audiences at the Strafford event and also at the Seacoast GOP Women Chili Fest in Stratham.

“We need a president who understands what leadership is,” she told the crowds. “Leadership is not about how big your position or your title is, it’s not about how big your office is, it’s not about how big your airplane, your helicopter, or your ego is. Leadership is about service.”

***

When I say Fiorina’s face bothers me, I am not referring to her looks in general. She looks fit, stylish, and attractive to me. But she does have what I call the angry wife face when she talks politics. Guys, you know the face, which is usually paired with a tone of disapproval. It is your greatest nightmare. It is the face that says you did not do a good job, at whatever.

The outragists in the press will report Trump’s comments as sexism. And by today’s standards, I agree with the classification. But what every adult male who has ever had a relationship with a woman saw was Trump putting words to their own personal nightmares: That face…

My guess is that the majority of American voters chuckled at Trump’s comment and muttered to themselves some version of “We don’t have to worry about him lying to us.” 

And his popularity grows.

***

Donald Trump has his go-to words, among them “great,” “terrific,” “rich” and “I.” But the Trumpian word that best sums up his candidacy—and the current mood of his supporters—is simply this: “Whatever.”

“Whatever” is The Donald’s response whenever or wherever he confronts something that he doesn’t like or understand. It’s a way out of taking a position: Does he support D.C. statehood? He’ll do “whatever is good for the District of Columbia.” (Whatever that is.)…

Conservatives have become so demoralized by the Obama state, so frustrated by the inability to check it, so tired of overpromising Republicans, that they just want someone to blow up everything. Mr. Trump says he will, and so they’re good with “whatever.”

Yet this frustration has peaked right as the base is finally getting a real choice—finally getting candidates with ideas, and finally getting the potential for a nominee who could have the smarts and experience and mandate to set the federal government on an entirely new course. Conservatives have worked hard to get to this moment. They deserve better than a “whatever.”

***

From the rise of the talk-radio rabble rousers to Karl Rove’s effort to build a permanent governing majority by mobilizing the religious right, from the founding of Fox News to starbursts for Sarah Palin and flattery for Tea Party furies, conservative intellectuals have been quite sure that they and the voters stand shoulder to shoulder on the same side of a chasm separating them from the liberal establishment. Hence the intellectuals’ enthusiasm for building a conservative counter-establishment of think tanks, magazines, and other media outlets to do battle with liberal elites. Hence also the presumed wisdom of using these ostensibly conservative institutions to keep the grassroots whipped up into a state of perpetual indignation and agitation. After all, an angry electorate is an electorate that shows up to the polls on Election Day. What could possibly go wrong?

What, indeed…

The conservative intellectuals threw in their lot with cultural populism a long time ago. Now they’ve finally gotten what they asked for and encouraged — a right-wing, anti-establishment, populist crusade — and they don’t like it one bit.

***

“Look at all of your faces,” Fiorina said, according to video posted online. “The face of leadership. The face of leadership in our party, the party of women’s suffrage. The face of leadership in your communities, in your businesses, in your places of work and worship. Ladies, note to Democrat Party: We are not a special interest group, we are the majority of the nation.”

***