In November 2015 during a visit to Sarasota, Florida, presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump called Kat Gates-Skipper the first female Marine to participate in combat during the first Gulf War. At the time, she introduced the then unlikely candidate to the stage and has continued to help lead his campaign efforts in the Sunshine State since. In attendance at the Republican National Convention over six months later, the veteran tells Bustle how Hillary Clinton's Benghazi trials paired with the candidate's husband's extramarital affairs have convinced her to remain in the pro-Trump camp. According to Gates-Skipper, the New York City businessman is best equipped to uphold the American values and ethics she grew up practicing.
Advocating that Trump is the best candidate for women like herself, Gates Skipper feels as though she can trust him more than she can a politician like Clinton. "He always talks about veterans and women and making America great, and I mean, he just talks about so many things because he’s been around a long time," she says. "He surrounds himself with important, smart people like he is."
Based on that reasoning, however, Clinton has also been around for a long while upon becoming First Lady in 1993. However, Gates-Skipper doesn't believe her track record stands up to the challenge as well as Trump's does. As a veteran, one of her biggest concerns is the Benghazi scandal, a case Republicans refuse to close just yet. Currently, members of the House are asking that the Department of Justice investigate whether Clinton lied under oath during the trials. "Well let me say one word: Benghazi," Gates-Skipper says. "Because I’m a veteran and Benghazi and what happened, you know anything to do with the veterans, I mean that’s a sore subject with me."
As FBI Director James Comey's suggestion that Clinton not be prosecuted continues to be debated, war veterans who agree with Gates-Skipper could pose a problem for the Clinton campaign as the general election approaches. And as co-chair of Florida Veterans for Donald Trump, her opinion carries clout. In a November 2015 interview with The Sunshine State News, she rooted for Trump on the basis that he will allegedly provide care for veterans.
I believe America needs strong leadership and a man like Donald Trump who will be strong on defense and ensure our veterans have convenient access to the best quality care. This Marine, this veteran, this woman, this grandmother wants her grandchildren to grow up in an America of hard work with high rewards.
But Benghazi isn't the sole reason she claims Clinton isn't a convincing candidate for women. Attributing her husband's missteps to the presumptive Democratic nominee herself, Gates-Skipper says she can't support "what happened there." In other words, she cannot accept Clinton because of her husband's past affairs while in the White House.
"I was raised on God and country and you know, just the values of a family and all that stuff," Gates-Skipper says. However, Trump's accounts of allegedly having affairs with married women have raised questions concerning his own family morals. In his book Trump: The Art of the Comeback, he wrote:
If I told the real stories of my experiences with women, often seemingly very happily married and important women, this book would be a guaranteed best-seller (which it will be anyway!). I’d love to tell all, using names and places, but I just don’t think it’s right.
Still, Gates-Skipper prides herself upon being old-fashioned when it comes to honoring both family and country. "You know every morning when I woke up, I said the pledge of allegiance and I said a prayer," she says. For her, Trump's refusal to be "politically correct" is the key to maintaining that sense of tradition.
"Now they say they can’t do it [say the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer] because they’re afraid of hurting somebody’s feelings?" she says. " ... If you don’t like it, this is our country."
Her festive red, white, and blue cowboy hat with flowers blossoming out of the top of it expresses that sentiment quite accurately: take it or leave it.