SALT LAKE CITY — President Donald Trump does not understand the Republican Party's issue with minority women, outgoing Rep. Mia Love said Tuesday during a panel discussion at the Women Rule Summit in Washington.
"Obviously not. I mean, that's just, it really is a given," the two-term Utah GOP congresswoman who lost her re-election bid said to laughter from the audience at the daylong summit sponsored by the online political news source Politico.
Love said her Haitian-born parents who live in Connecticut are a "clear example" because they supported the Republican president even though they felt it was "not nice" when he used an expletive to describe their homeland.
But then Trump mocked their daughter for losing her 4th Congressional District race at a post-election White House news conference even before Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams was declared the winner.
“Mia Love gave me no love, and she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia," the president said, including her in a list of Republicans he claimed lost because they didn't accept his offers of campaign support.
Love said her parents reacted "when they saw that here we're throwing a fellow Republican under the bus for absolutely no reason whatsoever, that again … really betrayed a trust that they had."
She said Republicans need "to get to the point where people are actually electing us not just on policies but the fact that they actually trust that we actually care about them. That's where I believe we can do a better job."
Repeating some of the themes of her Nov. 26 concession speech that also criticized Trump and the GOP for not embracing minorities, Love said her party needs to work harder to show "we're actually pretty compassionate."
Republican leaders may not recognize the issues they have with women in their party, "but more importantly, I'm not sure they know what to do about it. I think that is the biggest problem," Love said.
She said women need not only a support system but also to see the policies backed that they feel are important, such as her effort to make contraceptives available over the counter.
"The fact that I've got more issues with Republican men on this is absolutely absurd to me," Love said. "We need to step forward and say, 'You need to take a step back. Stop talking about contraceptives.'"
The panel moderator, Politico Congress reporter Rachel Bade, started the half-hour discussion by pointing out that after this year's midterm election, the number of GOP women in the House dropped from 23 to 13, the lowest level since 1994.
Another panelist, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-New York, said she intends to boost her own work to elect more Republican women to Congress after "we left a lot of amazing women on the field" after the midterm elections.
Stefanik, who won re-election, said she was "tired of having this issue within our conference, so I think it's time to roll up our sleeves and try to change the types of candidates we have."
She said "some of our colleagues understand it. But with the dwindling number of women we have, 13, we need to make sure we're using our voices and actually having an impact."
Love has a role to play even though she's leaving Congress, the New York congresswoman said.
"We were elected in 2014 together," Stefanik said. "She's one of my closest friends here, and I'm sad to see her go, but her voice is going to be as important on the outside if not more important on the outside to help shape the party for the future."
Love's participation in the panel discussion is her latest public appearance since losing her seat in the district that includes portions of Salt Lake, Utah, Juab and Sanpete counties by less than 700 votes.
She was a guest on ABC's "The View" last Friday, attracting national attention for repeating a comment she made during the campaign about being a Democratic target as a black Republican woman in Congress.
That concern was not raised by Love during Tuesday's panel discussion, which focused what Republicans need to be doing to get more women involved in politics, particularly at the national level.
Panelist Sarah Chamberlain, president and CEO of the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership, said there were lessons to be learned from the party's midterm losses of women in Congress.
Chamberlain said Trump is turning off suburban female voters who had backed GOP candidates in the past. She said women she talked to in a Pennsylvania congressional district on election night made that clear.
She said some dozen women pointed out they were "very unhappy with" Trump's tweet referring to Stormy Daniels, the adult film star he is alleged to have had an affair with, as "horseface."
"They said they liked our policies but they really were tired of the tweets," Chamberlain said. "I just wish he would stop."
Stefanik also said the president should tweet less.65 comments on this story
"That's, I think, a bare minimum of how we can really improve the rhetoric coming out of the White House but also the working relationship with the co-equal branch of government," the House and the Senate.
Love said she's frustrated when Trump is referred to as the leader of the Republican Party.
"I'm sorry, but I am Republican because of a set of principles that I follow," she said. "When I feel like somebody is not representing that platform well, then I will call them out on it. It does not matter who you are. My job is not to walk in lockstep with somebody just because they're sitting in the White House."