During a bipartisan convention in New Hampshire on Monday, Donald Trump got an unexpected grilling from an impassioned local college student. “Maybe you can prove me wrong, but I don’t think you’re a friend of women,” Lauren Batchelder told the GOP front-runner at the No Labels event, asking later: “If you become president, will a woman make the same as a man, and do I get to choose what I do with my body?”
The Donald gave a typically rambling response to Batchelder’s opening statement, but his answer to her follow-up was more succinct: “You’re going to make the same if you do as good of a job, and I happen to be pro-life, okay?”
Batchelder’s confident questioning originally made for good video, but not much else. The Donald’s defense against her anti-women accusation pretty much boiled down to the irrefutable though less-than-convincing facts that he has had female employees and is also related to several women—including his mother, “one of the great people of the world, maybe the greatest, ever.” (Trump has already made it clear that his general support for equal pay doesn’t extend to supporting legislation to codify it in law, and that he is against abortion with a few small caveats.)
The story, though, on Tuesday took a turn after it was discovered that Batchelder had previously been an unpaid volunteer on Jeb Bush’s campaign—a revelation that led Trump to brand her a “plant” and Trump’s army of Twitter trolls to take to their preferred medium to attack her. (Someone went as far as to tweet out a photo of what appears to be her student address. Classy, indeed.)
Bush’s camp is denying that they had anything to do with Batchelder’s questions—a believable claim given Jeb’s general inability to live up to the exclamation point on his campaign signs. But even if it was an orchestrated stunt by his campaign, Trump’s the last candidate who should be throwing stones when it comes to cheap political theater.
The bigger irony, though, is that assuming that Batchelder was trying to help Bush (either on her own or with the blessing of his campaign), this was a strange topic to pick. After all, if she had asked Jeb the same questions, she likely would have gotten the same answers. Like Trump, Bush doesn’t think equal pay legislation is needed to close the gender pay gap. Like Trump, Bush is pro-life. And like Trump, Bush still hasn’t found a way to talk about women’s issues without getting burned.