This is a familiar refrain from Trump. In New York, he really detested being dunned for political contributions. He apparently considered such requests shakedowns, and while he donated money, he resented it. He’s boorish about it, too, and if Trump really considered them bribes, he’s admitting complicity in a shady transaction.
But Trump’s critics were not content to make those points. This was a “sexist smear,” said Gillibrand. “Shameless slur,” the New York Times added, choosing its own alliteration. “Sexually suggestive,” agreed the Washington Post. USA Today’s editorial board rode this wave the hardest. “A president who’d all but call a senator a whore is unfit to clean toilets in Obama’s presidential library or shine George W. Bush’s shoes,” it proclaimed.
Groupthink is never attractive. But the real question is whether it’s a stretch to say that Trump engaged in obvious sexual innuendo. He’s got a history of talking like that, true, but on its face the insults aimed at Gillibrand were references to political, not sexual, favors. Moreover, he’s used that precise language before — about men who hit him up for contributions, Republicans and Democrats. He employed the “lightweight” slight against New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and conservative activist Brent Bozell. He called Rick Perry a “hypocrite” for requesting money and said all three had come to his office “begging” for contributions. (He said Bozell had begged “like a dog.”)