Ed Rendell: Sorry About that “Ugly Women” Comment

Reporters were waiting for him at the train station yesterday. Here's what he had to say for himself.

Yesterday we told you about how Ed Rendell put his foot in his mouth while trying to explain why he thought Donald Trump‘s comments about women, particularly his observations about bosom size as it relates to attractiveness, will hurt the presumptive Republican nominee with women voters:

“Trump’s comments like ‘You can’t be a 10 if you’re flat-chested,’ that’ll come back to haunt him. There are probably more ugly women in America than attractive women. People take that stuff personally,” said Rendell, a noted Hillary Clinton supporter, to a Washington Post reporter who was probing Trump’s chances and appeal in Philadelphia’s suburbs.

The quote went super viral while Rendell was in Washington, D.C., for Infrastructure Week. Reporters were waiting for Rendell when he got off the train at 30th Street Station yesterday afternoon.

“What I said was incredibly stupid and insensitive,” he offered, standing at the top of stairway No. 3. “When I read it in the article, I said, ‘Did I say that?’ It was just dumb, and stupid, and insensitive, and if I offended anyone, I apologize.

“By attacking someone’s looks, [Trump] was attacking an awful lot of people,” Rendell continued, “people who aren’t necessarily satisfied with how they look.”

David Weigel, the Washington Post reporter in whose article Rendell’s quote first appeared, explained his role in the tempest. He describes a scenario anyone who’s reported on the former Philadelphia mayor and Pennsylvania governor is likely familiar with: The quick interview request that turns into a bonanza of off-the-cuff quotable material:

“I reached out to Rendell, hoping to talk briefly in person to a politician who had mastered the art of winning the city and suburbs in his two thumping gubernatorial wins. I heard back with a phone call at 5:19 p.m. on Friday, as I was parking for an interview set to start at 5:30. An assistant put Rendell on the line, and I took detailed notes on the laptop perched on my steering wheel.”

Weigel describes the freewheeling Rendell’s colorful takes on the world-view of a Trump supporter as well as the situation Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey finds himself in. He also provided a bit more of what Rendell said after the “ugly” quote:

“People take that stuff personally. He demeans women. He demeans Mexican Americans, I think women are rightfully irritated by how he talks. Plus, you don’t know where he stands. One day he’s for Planned Parenthood, the next day he’s against it.”

Weigel also talked a bit about how a quote pretty far down in his story ended up as national news (and a full-blown Twitter controversy): “When I finished reporting the story, Rendell’s joke about ‘ugly women’ clearly became a stand-out quote. I hadn’t heard any malice in it; Rendell seemed to be making an arch point about the risk of telling the world that women were worthless unless they were smoking hot.”


Of course, Weigel provided another quote Rendell gave on the same topic that didn’t make it into the original story: “The Republican women in the suburbs — I think [Trump’s] got an awesome burden to win them back. I think he’ll lose some thoughtful women and men.” It says kind of the same thing — but it’s not the kind of quote reporters reach out to Rendell to provide.