Donald Trump is facing backlash over yet another verbal gaffe. During a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Monday night, Trump took aim at Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, stating the former secretary of state "got schlonged" by Barack Obama when she lost the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. The rather vulgar term shocked voters and understandably outraged the Clinton campaign. Trump immediately took to Twitter to defend his wording, noting that NPR's Neal Conan used the word to describe the unsuccessful 1984 Democratic presidential ticket of Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro. Conan recently spoke out about Trump's comments and unsurprisingly said that no, "schlonged" is not an OK word to use.
Conan was the host of NPR's Talk of the Nation and used the word in 2011 during a segment on the death of Geraldine Ferraro, the first female vice presidential nominee who passed away that year. Describing her and Walter Mondale's failed campaign, Conan stated that the two "went on to get schlonged at the polls." Speaking with The Washington Post, he recalled not immediately remembering his usage of the word but that his executive producer, Sue Goodwin, was undoubtedly unhappy about it. Conan, a current Hawaii Public Radio contributor and part-time macadamia nut farmer, was worried that Trump used his name to justify such an insult. Conan told The Washington Post:
I was a little upset that a dominant narrative is that since this word has been used by an NPR host, that made it OK for Donald Trump to use it and that nobody, especially Secretary Clinton, should take offense. I fear that my previous usage has unwittingly given Donald Trump a veneer of respectability.
The respected radio journalist penned an impassioned op-ed with the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, apologizing for his language and noting Trump's lengthy history of making disparaging remarks about women. Conan concluded:
As my arguments with [executive producer Sue] Goodwin suggest, I like to push the envelope in what is sometimes referred to as polite company... But since my previous use of this word has apparently provided Donald Trump a veneer of respectability for yet another in a disturbingly long series of nasty, hateful diatribes, I apologize.
By the looks of his Twitter feed, Trump has been relatively disinterested in Conan's mea culpa and condemnation of the Republican candidate. Instead, he's focused his efforts on continuing to attack Clinton. Regardless of how the GOP frontrunner feels about his treatment of women, using such language does little to help his image. If anything, it at least gave Conan a chance to apologize for a lapse in judgment of his own.