This article originally appeared on Yahoo Parenting and was reprinted with permission.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump called a lawyer and breastfeeding mother “disgusting” after she requested a break from a deposition in order to pump, according to a New York Times report on Tuesday.
According to the paper, lawyer Elizabeth Beck was questioning Trump in 2011 about a failed Florida real estate project. Beck, with her husband, represented clients who claimed to lose thousands of dollars in the deal. At one point, Beck, who had a 3-month-old daughter, requested a medical break which was contested by Trump and his lawyers, who wanted to continue, the Times says. That’s when Beck took out her breast pump to show that her request was urgent — she needed to pump for her infant. “You’re disgusting,” Trump told Beck before leaving the room.
The quote is not disputed by Trump’s camp.
In an interview with CNN on Wednesday morning, Beck says she had pre-negotiated breaks during the deposition in order for her to pump. “[Trump] got up, his face got red, he shook his finger at me and he screamed, ‘You’re disgusting, you’re disgusting,’ and he ran out of there,” Beck said. She called his behavior “an absolute meltdown.”
Alan Garten, a lawyer for Trump who was present at the deposition, told the Times that Trump’s statement “was in no way a statement about her decision to breastfeed or pump. It was solely the fact that she was appearing to do it in the middle of a deposition,” and Garten said Beck was using the pump break as an excuse to get extra time to come up with questions for Trump.
In a series of tweets on Wednesday morning, Trump addressed the incident, claiming that Beck “wanted to breast pump in front of me” at the deposition. He also wrote that “Lawyer Elizabeth Beck did a terrible job against me, she lost (I even got legal fees). I loved beating her, she was easy.”
Beck told CNN that she was not interested in pumping in front of anyone, but was simply asking for a break and a private space.
Trump hasn’t spoken publicly much about his views on breastfeeding, working mothers, or working families in general. He did, however, congratulate himself in Iowa in April after he withheld from screaming at a crying baby. During a speech, he called out an infant who was crying, as well as the little one’s parents. “And did you notice that baby was crying through half of the speech and I didn’t get angry?” he said, according to Raw Story. “Not once. Did you notice that? That baby was driving me crazy. I didn’t get angry once because I didn’t want to insult the parents for not taking the kid out of the room!”
Later, he pointed out, “I have great restraint.”
Shilpa Phadke, Senior Director, Women’s Initiative, for the Center for American Progress tells Yahoo Parenting that Trump’s breastfeeding quote represents just “another example of how out of touch he is.”
Phadke adds that the words don’t bode well for the candidate’s presidential run. “What women in America want out of their next presidential candidate is someone who is in touch with the realities of working families,” she says. “They are looking for solutions to everyday problems. We’ve seen in the last few elections how important the women’s vote is, and it will be very interesting to see how women react to Trump’s words.”
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director of CEO and MomsRising, says all parents are paying close attention to how presidential candidates can represent working families. “Our members feel that many presidential candidates are out of touch and don’t have a clue what is going on with working families in America,” she tells Yahoo Parenting. “It’s out of touch for anyone, particularly a candidate for president, to call breastfeeding disgusting. It’s universally recommended by pediatricians that all children are breastfed because it has the best longterm health outcomes for women and children, which not only helps families thrives but saves important health care costs later.”
Though women are an increasing percentage of the labor force, moms continue to face discrimination, Rowe-Finkbeiner points out. “While women makes 78 cents to a man’s dollar, moms are making 69 cents to a dad’s dollar,” she says. “We have significant wage, hiring and other discrimination against moms in America right now and comments like those Donald Trump made about breastfeeding reinforce that discrimination.”
It’s a problem that families want addressed in government, she says. “In America right now, for the first time in history, women are 50 percent of the paid labor force, and 40 percent of all primary breadwinners are moms, but our public policies are stuck in the stone ages,” she says. “We have started seeing these issues gain significant momentum but we still need to push them past the finish line. Moms are looking to candidates to see what they can do to show they understand these issues and pass policies to allow families to thrive.”
When it comes to the upcoming election, Rowe-Finkbeiner says parents are paying closer attention than ever — and Trump would do well to at least try to understand the realities of American families, something his most recent quote indicates needs real work. “Moms and dads across America are fired up,” she says. “They are paying attention to where candidates stand on economic security issues like access to afford childcare, and they are paying attention earlier than they have in prior campaigns.”
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