Donald Trump has long used his Twitter account to attack his personal and political foes, but when the 45th president-elect called out an 18-year-old college student for asking him a question in a "nasty fashion" last year, what transpired next was truly frightening. On Oct. 12, 2015, Lauren Batchelder attended a political forum in New Hampshire where Trump was speaking. When it was her to turn to ask Trump a question, Batchelder told him that she didn't think he was "a friend to women." She went on to ask Trump how he would ensure that women are paid equally in the workplace and that they continue to have agency over their own bodies if he were to be elected president.
Trump defended his relationship with women by telling Batchelder that he employs many women in his businesses, but stopped short of promising equal pay. "You're going to make the same if you do as good of a job," Trump told her. The day after the exchange, Trump called Batchelder out in two tweets:
The arrogant young woman who questioned me in such a nasty fashion at No Labels yesterday was a Jeb staffer! HOW CAN HE BEAT RUSSIA & CHINA?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2015
How can Jeb Bush expect to deal with China, Russia + Iran if he gets caught doing a “plant” during my speech yesterday in NH?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2015
In a new interview with The Washington Post, Batchelder admits she did sign up as a volunteer for the Jeb Bush campaign in the Fall of 2015. But, she says if she was truly a plant, she wouldn't have asked Trump a pro-choice question. "Why would they ever send me out to do a pro-choice question? Guys, [Bush] is pro-life, which was one of my biggest problems with the Republican party."
Batchelder says that since that day, images of her face have been edited by random users online to feature graphic sexual images, and she's received troubling messages on Facebook from Trump supporters threatening to assault her. "Wishing I could f*cking punch you in the face. id then proceed to stomp your head on the curb and urinate in your bloodied mouth," one read, "and i know where you live, so watch your f*cking back punk."
As a private citizen, Batchelder says she never expected the backlash she faced would be so strong. "I didn't really know what his supporters were going to do, and that to me was the scariest part."
Now 19, Batchelder told the paper she voted for Hillary Clinton and thinks Trump should rethink his Twitter use once he is president and inherits the official @POTUS Twitter handle. "Twitter is such a powerful platform," she noted. "I think he should use it for good. I think he should use it to uplift others."