KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. (CN) — Shortly after Kathy McBride put up a yard sign supporting Donald Trump for president in 2016, she received a note from one of her neighbors.
“Thank you for being a deplorable,” it said.
That’s one of the reasons why she and her friend Barbara Wilson say they don’t feel safe wearing pro-Trump T-shirts just anywhere — they only break them out for rallies, like the one they attended this morning at the Valley Forge Casino just outside Philadelphia.
Surrounded by a sea of red “Make America Great Again” caps, the pair fit in well among roughly 1,000 other attendees launching the national “Women for Trump” 2020 campaign, an effort to increase Trump’s female voter base.
In addition to crediting Trump for the national increase when it comes to women’s employment, McBride and Wilson pointed to the number of women represented in Trump’s own staff. Aside from the issues, though, they have some quibbles.
“We want him to stop tweeting,” McBride said. “We’re still supporting, but we don’t necessarily agree with everything he does.”
Lara Trump, who is married to the president’s son Eric, headlined Tuesday’s event, taking the stage following a prayer and several opening speakers.
“I’m a little confused because I didn’t think women supported Donald Trump,” she joked with the crowd. “Do you feel differently about this narrative?”
One attendee in agreement is Priscilla Confrey. Wearing a shawl and cowboy hat with an American flag design, Confrey said she opted to vote for Trump in 2016 rather than support another career politician.
“He was an outsider coming in — he’s not beholden to anybody,” she said,
Like Wilson and McBride, Confrey said she also appreciates the high number of women on Trump’s staff. “I think that in itself shows his respect,” Confrey said.
Lara took stock of the crowd Tuesday before turning to how Trump’s support among women is presented in the mainstream media.
“They keep saying that women won’t support Donald Trump, but I have women come up to me all the time and say, ‘I’m going to vote for Donald Trump,’” Lara said, adding that the admission tends to be whispered.
Apart from Lara’s anecdotal evidence, though, Trump had just 41% of the female vote in 2016 compared to the 54% of women who voted for Hillary Clinton.
Joe Foster, chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee, called Trump’s share significantly low and emphasized in a phone interview Tuesday that polls continuously suggest that women are unlikely to vote for Trump.
Lara meanwhile urged attendees to stay motivated in 2020.
“They don’t make it easy for us to be Trump supporters,” she said, repeating her father-in-law’s nickname about the “fake news media.”
Lara said voters should be wary of the socialist policies she said are being advanced by Democrats that establish “full government control of everything.”
Foster called the branding “completely absurd.”
“Attempts to provide health care for everybody and housing for everyone is not an example of runaway socialism,” Foster said. “It’s what this country’s been doing for a very long time.”
Lara also credited Trump with a surging stock market and reduced unemployment, but Foster noted in the interview that these trends began when President Obama was still in office.
“We’ve had a lot of job increases over the past six years,” he said. “The economy has been strong for some time.”
“They have actually undone a lot of the regulations that help give our economy a strong and stable base,” Foster continued. “Personal debt continues to rise in this country, and it’s reaching unprecedented heights.”
Foster criticized the deceptive tactic of encouraging supporters not to listen to the media.
“The idea that you are told not to listen to people who criticize or point things out — there is nothing more undemocratic than those kinds of statements,” Foster said.
Addressing the crowd Tuesday, former Fox News television personality Kimberly Guilfoyle offered attendees her take on a 21st century adage: “Nothing melts a snowflake faster than a strong beautiful and powerful woman who clings to her bible and her guns.”
Guilfoylw is a senior adviser on Trump’s 2020 campaign, and Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniels also spoke at the event.
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said at the event that the campaign used voter data to choose the campaign’s kickoff location. Montgomery County is the third largest county in Pennsylvania and has the third largest Democratic registration rate in the commonwealth. In 2016, when Trump won Pennsylvania as a state, Clinton took 58 percent of the vote in the county.
The campaign hopes to take the swing state again in 2020.
“Y’all, are our boots on the ground?” Lara asked the crowd. “You are our people across the country who are disseminating the message.”