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Many White Women In Ohio Undecided Over Donald Trump


Let's go now to Ohio, a state where white women are a key swing vote. Four years ago, a majority of them supported the Republican presidential candidate. This year that might not happen. That's because many who might have considered a Republican are having deep reservations about the one on their ballot.

NPR's Asma Khalid met with some of these undecided voters earlier in the campaign. This week she went back to see them.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: I came back to the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio, specifically to meet up with women like Audrey Cox. She turns 94 today, and in all those years, she's always voted for a Republican president. But this year she's leaning toward the Democrat because she's horrified by her party's nominee.

AUDREY COX: Well, he's insulted more women (laughter).

KHALID: Cox remembers a time when women were treated unfairly in the workplace.

COX: In the dispatch ads for years - help wanted, female - help wanted, male. I have the last day that they did that. I have that in my file at home because it was so damn important that they finally changed that.

KHALID: Donald Trump reminds her of this bygone era when women were kept in their place. When I first met Cox this summer, she thought maybe Trump could win her over, but he has not in the last couple of months.

COX: His vulgar language for one thing. I just envision World War III with him. I don't - I just think he can't keep his mouth shut when he should, you know (laughter)?

KHALID: And she's not the only woman who feels this way.

SARAH MINTO: As a woman, I could not ever in my right mind vote for Donald Trump.

KHALID: That's Sarah Minto. She's a mom with three teenage kids.

MINTO: He flat out wants male dominance in our country. He wants white male dominance in our country - is what I truly believe.

KHALID: Minto was a Barack Obama voter in 2008 but then became a devoted Mitt Romney supporter in 2012, even appearing in one of his ads. When we first spoke about November's election, she also had a lot of issues with Hillary Clinton because of her email server.

MINTO: So I remember telling you I wasn't sure who was voting for. I said if Hillary would apologize, that might change my mind. Well, in the debates the other night, she actually did apologize.

KHALID: But Minto says Clinton's apology did not work.

MINTO: Her tone of voice was so insincere. It sounded robotic. It sounded like she had planned to say that because that's what people wanted to hear. But I even turned to my husband. I started laughing. And I said, wow, she will say anything to get a vote.

KHALID: Minto says that moment is when she officially made up her mind to vote for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate. But there are loyal Republicans like Traci Saliba who just needed time to feel better about Donald Trump. Saliba's a Republican activist in Delaware County, a consistently red part of the state.

TRACI SALIBA: I do not want Hillary Clinton as my president. I don't want either of the Clintons anywhere near the White House.

KHALID: Saliba says the recent claims of sexual misconduct by Trump bother her a lot.

SALIBA: And if the election were tomorrow, I'd be praying a lot tonight.

KHALID: She says both candidates are flawed, but ultimately she will be voting for Trump.

SALIBA: I don't have to be 100 percent for him. I don't have to campaign. I don't have to endorse. I just have to make my vote count.

KHALID: In an ideal scenario, she just wants to feel better about that vote. But for Kristen Starr, that's not a realistic option. I meet Starr at the playground with her son.

KRISTEN STARR: Lovely hiking and...

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Mommy, can I do this?

STARR: Yes, you may.

KHALID: She considers herself an independent, but as far as she can remember, she's always voted for a Republican at the top of the ticket. Starr says her daughter recently saw an ad on TV with all the degrading things Trump has said to women.

STARR: And I remember her turning to me and saying, Mommy, like, why would anybody talk like that? And that's how I feel - that, why would anybody talk like that, and how could we possibly have the kids of this nation and especially our girls respect someone like that? I think it's sad.

KHALID: Starr says she will be voting for Clinton this November, though she doesn't fully trust her. Both Trump and Clinton have a solid base of support here, but it's female voters like these who could make a difference. And for many of them, in the last couple of months, Donald Trump has not done himself any favors. Asma Khalid, NPR News, Dublin, Ohio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.
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