Donald Trump's bizarre war on women

Story highlights

  • Donald Trump's threat to "spill the beans" on Heidi Cruz set off an unseemly controversy over issues that have nothing to do with being president, writes Tara Setmayer
  • She says it's not a mystery why 73% of American women have an unfavorable view of Trump

Tara Setmayer is former communications director for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, and a CNN political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @tarasetmayer. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.

(CNN)In a matter of 48 hours last week, the national conversation went from a War on Terror to the War on Women thanks to another late-night Trump Twitter tirade. Donald Trump just can't seem to help himself. Or can he?

At the time of Trump's now infamous tweet threatening to "spill the beans" on rival Ted Cruz's wife in response to an anti-Trump super PAC's use of a Melania Trump modeling photo in a political ad, the world was reeling from the latest ISIS terrorist attack in Brussels.
It was also particularly bad timing considering that a day earlier, Trump failed to allay growing criticism of his lack of foreign policy knowledge with a mediocre speech to pro-Israel group AIPAC, raised eyebrows when he wouldn't rule out the use of nuclear weapons to fight ISIS and suggested the United States pull back its role in NATO during a bizarre Washington Post editorial board meeting.
    Not only is Belgium a member of NATO, its headquarters are in Brussels. Whoops.
    Something else was happening that Tuesday evening.
    It was becoming clear that Donald Trump was going to suffer a crushing defeat at the hands of Sen. Cruz in the Utah caucuses -- and he did, 69% to 14%.
    Although Trump handily won Arizona, he has failed to get over 50% in any state thus far. Cruz has done it twice and is the only candidate to beat Trump in multiple contests.
    For someone whose entire campaign is predicated on "winning," losing that badly in Utah probably didn't go over very well in Trump World.
    And so, the Twitter war began. Some say Trump was simply defending his wife since spouses are supposed to be off limits in elections. Perhaps.
    That didn't stop Trump from going after Jeb Bush's wife last summer when he retweeted "#JebBush has to like Mexican illegals because of his wife." When confronted by Jeb Bush during a debate and given the chance to apologize, Trump refused.
    Why was it really necessary for Trump to directly attack his opponent's wife first by threatening to embarrass her and then retweeting an unflattering picture of her next to an appealing picture of his wife?
    Trump's reaction to the Melania photo was more about feigned outrage designed to distract than some noble act of chivalry as some Trump surrogates have tried to claim. It's more about bullying and demeaning women because that's Trump's modus operandi. An honorable man doesn't need to objectify another man's wife to effectively defend his own.
    Attacking Heidi Cruz's appearance was a direct assault against all women and young girls who are often harshly and unfairly judged by their looks. What kind of message does that send coming from a presidential front-runner?
    Trump has a history of throwing temper tantrums and insulting women. From calling women disgusting, fat pigs, and bimbos to remarks about dropping to their knees and having a nice piece of a** on his arm, the litany of offensive comments is well-documented.
    To put it mildly, Trump has a women problem. He may be attracting some Republican women voters, but according to the latest CNN poll, taken before the spat with Cruz over his wife, 73% of registered female voters in the United States had an unfavorable view of Trump.
    Those results are consistent with a Reuters poll that found more than half of the women in this country hold a "very unfavorable" view of him. That's a steep hill to climb for Trump in a general election if he ends up the GOP nominee against Hillary Clinton.
    After his big wins on March 15, political observers said it would behoove Trump to pivot toward becoming more presidential and unifying the party.
    His surrogates and media acolytes were pushing the narrative that it was time to coalesce behind Trump -- to "fall in line," despite the fact we are still months from the convention, several key states have not voted and Trump has yet to win the majority of delegates to clinch the GOP nomination.
    Not so fast.
    Whether Trump's latest antics were calculated or just impulse, it demonstrates once again that he does not have the temperament, judgment or common decency to be President of the United States.