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Conservative women’s conference is a refuge for Trump’s fans

DALLAS — About 1,000 conservative women 17 to 24 years old attended the Young Women’s Leadership Summit, a four-day meeting that has become a refuge for President Trump’s female supporters.

They came from 48 states, yearning for moments of belonging they rarely find at home.

Cheyenne Martin, a 19-year-old student at Georgetown University, described being ridiculed by classmates for her desire to lead the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency one day. But this weekend, she got a standing ovation.

Kyeasia Benjamin, 22, said she used stealth social media accounts to hide her love of Trump from her family.

Laci Williams, 20, said she felt so isolated in Denver that she started a magazine to connect with like-minded women.

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“We are left out of the national conversation,” Williams said of young conservative women. “And we’re sick and tired of being ignored.”

The summit, which ended Sunday, was sponsored by Turning Point USA, a group of young conservatives, and the National Rifle Association. It began in 2015 and has evolved into an ultra-Trumpian event, complete with “lock her up” chants and vulgar T-shirts disparaging Hillary Clinton.

The conference styles itself as an alternative to a liberal culture of feminism that many Republicans characterize as oppressive. It offers sessions like “How Political Correctness is Making Everyone Stupid.”

The conference was a rejoinder of sorts to the many female Democrats running for office in the midterm elections. While liberals are hopeful about a blue wave this November, the women here had a different message: Republicans are energized, too — by a growing economy, a president they believe in, and a belief that a “silent majority” of Trump supporters will again shock the political world this fall.

Women at the summit appeared united by their criticism of movements such as the March for Our Lives for gun control, the MeToo campaign to raise awareness for sexual assault, or the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality.

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Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s counselor and the main speaking attraction at the conference, invoked Clinton as she praised the assembled audience: “We kept open the job of first female president of the United States, so maybe she’s in this room. This country’s more than ready for a female president — just not that one.”