During the course of the first presidential debate of 2016, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton accused her opponent, GOP nominee Donald Trump, of having made a slew of sexist remarks, one of them being that Trump once said that pregnancy presents an “inconvenience” to employers. Trump, as usual, denied he had said any such thing.
The lead-in to this exchange came as Clinton and Trump traded barbs during the first of three presidential debates on 26 September 2016 at Hofstra University in New York. At one point, Trump was questioned by moderator Lester Holt about his criticism of Clinton as lacking a “presidential look”:
LESTER HOLT: “Mr. Trump, Secretary Clinton became in the first woman nominated for president by a major party earlier this month. You said “she doesn’t have a presidential look.” She’s standing here right now. What you mean by that?”
TRUMP: “She doesn’t have the look. She don’t have the stamina. I said she doesn’t have the stamina. And I don’t believe she does have the stamina. To be president of this country you need tremendous stamina.”
HOLT: “The quote was, ‘I just don’t think she has a presidential look …'”
As Trump dodged the question by pivoting from looks to stamina, Clinton responded by suggesting his comment about her lacking a “presidential look” was sexist in nature and repeating some of the other sexist things Trump had supposedly said about women:
CLINTON: “Well, one thing Lester, is you know, he tried to switch from looks to stamina but this is a man who is called women pigs, slobs, and dogs, and someone who has said pregnancy is an inconvenience to employers.”
TRUMP: “I never said that.”
But as is so often the case, Trump had in fact said exactly that (with the slight qualification that he referenced “businesses” and “a person that is running a business” rather than “employers”) during a 2004 interview with NBC’s Dateline TV news magazine program.
Trump Golf Properties Executive Vice President and former Apprentice star Carolyn Kepcher, who had just released the book Carolyn 101, told Dateline that she had waited until she was six months pregnant and “showing” before she informed Trump (who was then her employer) about her condition because she feared he would consider it a “setback” and find someone to replace her. When asked about Kepcher’s remarks, Trump told Dateline:
Well you know, pregnancy is never — it’s a wonderful thing for the woman, it’s a wonderful thing for the husband. It’s certainly an inconvenience for a business, and whether people want to say that or not, the fact is, it is an inconvenience for a person that is running a business.
Kepcher told “Dateline” she only took three weeks of maternity leave before returning to her job, part-time at first. Trump said that he wouldn’t have replaced her, but added that “maybe she should feel that way a little bit, but the fact is, that would not have happened”:
Fans of The Apprentice, the popular NBC reality show that starred Trump, may recall that Kepcher was unceremoniously and publicly fired from the show and Trump’s business ventures by Trump in 2006.
Vitali, Ali. “Trump in 2004: Pregnancy Is an ‘Inconvenience’ to Employers.”
NBC News. 26 May 2016.
Moore, Frazier. “‘Apprentice’ Figure Carolyn Kepcher Axed.”
Associated Press. 31 August 2006.