Donald J. Trump has criticized Carly Fiorina’s looks, saying of his only female Republican rival: “Look at that face! Would anybody vote for that?” He has said that listening to Mrs. Fiorina’s voice gives him a “massive headache.” He has mocked her business career, and has gleefully declared how “viciously” she was fired by Hewlett-Packard.
On Wednesday, Mr. Trump will share a stage with Mrs. Fiorina for the first time, in the second Republican presidential debate.
Political strategists warn male candidates to use caution when debating against a female rival. But almost never before in American presidential politics has a candidate who has drawn charges of sexism and bullying been forced to personally confront the female recipient of his insults on live television. And with Mrs. Fiorina bragging that she is getting under Mr. Trump’s skin, their showdown is emerging as one of the most intriguing subplots of the second debate.
In the first Republican debate last month, Mr. Trump defended having called women “fat pigs” and “disgusting animals,” and he later implied that the moderator, Megyn Kelly of Fox News, had asked him tough questions because she was menstruating, a comment that got him disinvited from an influential conservative gathering where Mrs. Fiorina gave a rousing speech.
Mrs. Fiorina stood out in the “undercard” of the first Republican debate, and since then she has edged up in polls to earn a spot on the main stage with Mr. Trump. But the presence of the two has prompted concern — and a lot of curiosity — in a party eager to take on Hillary Rodham Clinton and worried about how Mr. Trump will fare in debating against a woman.
“I’m not going to call her honey,” Mr. Trump said in an interview last week. But he added of Mrs. Fiorina: “Look, she’s only got 3 percent in the polls, so in order to get recognition, I think she’ll start hitting me. So I think she’s fair game.”
Mr. Trump said he was preparing to criticize the record — and not the appearance — of Mrs. Fiorina, who was fired as the chief executive of Hewlett-Packard and, like Mr. Trump, has never held elected office.
“I want to talk about her …Read More