BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian celebrities who joined millions of women in a campaign against far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro have been “brainwashed,” with his low female support explained by women taking their time to shop around, his running mate told Reuters.
Using a retail analogy that will likely rile many female voters, retired General Hamilton Mourão said that women take longer than men to decide who to vote for, and that is why polls show there are fewer of them supporting the presidential contender just ten days before the Oct. 7 election.
“You know, a man goes into a shop and buys, and that’s it. A woman takes time to buy. It’s the same logic,” he said.
Mourão was also dismissive of a growing online movement that has attracted some of Brazil’s top female stars to speak out against Bolsonaro, the polarizing frontrunner whose career has been marked by sexist, racist and anti-gay comments that critics say make him unfit for the presidency.
“What we can see, clearly, is that our artists, and the intellectual class, have been brainwashed and seem to have just one view of the world,” Mourão said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “It seems they have stopped thinking.”
A social media campaign against Bolsonaro called #EleNao, or #NotHim, has exploded in recent weeks, garnering support from pop singers Anitta and Daniela Mercury. A “Women United Against Bolsonaro” Facebook group reached 3.5 million members, but has gone private after being hacked.
Millions of women across Brazil are expected to take to the streets on Saturday and march against Bolsonaro, who was indicted for inciting violence after shouting “I won’t rape you because you don’t deserve it” at a leftist lawmaker on the floor of the lower house of Congress in 2014.
He has said that the gender pay gap is justified and has pledged to veto any attempts to legalize abortion. Last year, he said having a daughter, his fifth child after four boys, was “a moment of weakness.”
Bolsonaro’s conservative social views and vows to loosen gun laws and end years of graft have resonated among evangelicals and voters worn down by recession and rising violence.
But he has the highest rejection rate by women among the 13 candidates in the race - 54 percent, according to a survey by polling firm Ibope published this week.
Bolsonaro’s low support among women could cost him the election if, as expected, no candidate wins a majority in the first round, prompting an Oct. 28 run-off.
Surveys suggest Bolsonaro could lose the run-off to leftist Workers Party candidate Fernando Haddad, thanks mainly to the votes of women, Ibope said.
Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Writing by Anthony Boadle, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien