Republicans, meet your teammate: Caitlyn Jenner.
The transgender former Olympian turned reality star is holding firmly onto her GOP card, and from what she told reporters at the Television Critics Association tour in Pasadena, Calif., that’s not likely to change.
Jenner was asked why she doesn't just "support the party that supports women and women's rights?”
"Well, I really don’t want to heavily get into politics because, certainly, we have enough politics going on in the United States right now. But as I tell the girls, it’s kind of good. If the Republicans haven’t been very good on this issue — which I agree, they haven’t been.”
In a preview of season two of her docu-series on E!, I Am Cait, politics is just one of the topics that comes up on a road trip that Jenner and several of her trans girlfriends took across the country, through what Jenner called “some of the greatest truckstops in America.” It’s on that tour bus that she made her case for the Republican party to her ”girls:”
“Every conservative guy out there believes in everybody’s rights,” said Jenner in the clip, to which actress and singer Candis Cayne covers her ears, newcomer Ella Giselle and trans author Kate Bornstein covered their mouths, and Jenner’s own Jiminy Cricket, Jenny Boylan, shouted, “That is a lie!”
Jenner went on to say both Hillary Clinton and President Obama had been opposed to legalizing same-sex marriage, until — as Bornstein points out — they changed their minds and publicly endorsed marriage equality.
Back on stage, that conversation continued:
“Certainly the Democrats have been better on this issue,” Jenner told reporters Thursday. “Isn’t it good that they have an ally, somebody on the team that can go in there and maybe change their minds? That’s a good thing. That’s kind of the way I look at it."
"She thinks she can win them over," interjected Boylan wryly, a professor at Barnard and author. "We [trans women] are not one voice and, oh my God, some of us are Republicans. For now."
Caitlyn Jenner has made no secret of being a conservative, even though it took many by surprise when she revealed her political affiliation in her interview with Diane Sawyer last March.
A leading LGBT voice in the GOP who has welcomed Jenner with open arms is Log Cabin Republicans national executive director, Gregory Angelo.
"There is an invitation on the table. I am letting Caitlyn Jenner's agent know I would be more than happy to take her to Capitol Hill and introduce her to prominent Republicans," Angelo told E!
Former Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Lindsey Graham, threw his support behind Jenner, and former senator Rick Santorum said he’d welcome her endorsement, but as yet she has not announced who she’s supporting for the nomination. A story this week on E! speculated that Jenner could be the face of the Republican Party if she chose to run for political office, like Ronald Reagan.
Another one of Jenner’s co-stars spoke up in her defense during Thursday’s panel: her I Am Cait co-star Chandi Moore.
"I thought it was great, because I’ve never listened to anything Republicans had to say," said Moore, who like her friends traveling with Jenner, favors a more progressive view. She compimented Jenner for saying "some things that made sense — not that it would ever change my opinion."
Two of the stops Jenner and her entourage made promise to be politically charged: a visit to Des Moines, Iowa, where caucuses are held February 1; and to Houston, where a public referendum last year defeated a human rights ordinance that had previously protected LGBT people and others from discrimination. While in Texas, Jenner confronted a conservative Christian pastor who helped organize opposition to HERO, and wound-up praying with the Houston minister.
Watch the preview of season two, beginning March 6, of E!’s I Am Cait, below.