Friends Spring to Rosie O'Donnell's Defense in the Face of Donald Trump's 'Unrelenting Meanness'
Rosie O'Donnell is "one of the most generous human beings I have had the pleasure of knowing," Gloria Estefan told PEOPLE
Just a couple of days after the GOP nominee dragged O’Donnell into the presidential debate (“I said very tough things to her, and I think everybody would agree that she deserves it and nobody feels sorry for her,”) the comedian hosted a gala in New York City through her non-profit arts education organization Rosie’s Theater Kids. Though she wasn’t in attendance herself, her friends were quick to jump to her defense against Trump’s attack.
“Don’t worry girl, we got you!” honoree Gloria Estefan shouted out to reporters at the event, referencing O’Donnell, 54.
Speaking to PEOPLE, Estefan said it was upsetting to witness Trump, 70, bring up O’Donnell during such an important debate.
“It’s frustrating to see things that shouldn’t be in that venue being pronounced,” she said. “I don’t see the need to mention any private citizen or a celebrity or anybody else. We want to hear plans. We want to hear what you’re going to do for the country. We want to hear from both candidates, and hear actual plans, because we’ve got to make a decision here.”
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“Rosie does amazing things,” continued Estefan, 59. “She’s one of the most generous human beings I have had the pleasure of knowing. And I know this firsthand because I’ve been there when she’s cut huge checks, when she’s given her time.
Referencing O’Donnell’s Theater Kids work, Estefan said the star “loves” working with children.
“She cares about them,” she said. “This organization really puts theater in the hands of kids that may never otherwise get the opportunity to get to do what they love.”
Actor BD Wong also spoke to PEOPLE at the event, saying Trump’s comments were “astonishing.”
“I’m always disheartened by Donald Trump’s unrelenting meanness and his inability to be sensitive in any given situation,” said Wong, 55. “But the fact that I know Rosie O’Donnell really intensified that.”
“The debate itself was historic, and that moment in particular was historic because it was so incredibly inappropriate,” continued Wong.
Wong made a point to bring up Monday’s debate in comparison to past presidential debates.
“[There used to be] decorum. There was a professionalism. There was a sportsmanship that was lacking on his part that night – so that was astonishing,” said Wong. “And his lack of sportsmanship was exemplified by the statement about Rosie.’
“What’s amazing to me, though, is that he even goes so far as to say, ‘Oh yeah, and everyone agrees with me,’ ” said Wong. “While Rosie can be controversial and say things that push buttons, she’s really well liked – she’s very beloved in a lot of communities. So that’s a really out of touch statement to make. I would venture a guess that more people feel that way about him than they do about her.”
Musician Steven Van Zandt joked to PEOPLE that getting attacked by Trump is almost “a badge of honor at this point.”
“We can’t measure things the way we used to,” said the rocker, 65. “[Trump] is just winging it. It doesn’t seem real. And I don’t think it worked out too well in that particular debate, anyway.”
“I couldn’t believe he came out with that,” added actor Tony Danza, 65. “It was unsolicited.”
“I actually had two friends on my Facebook feed the next day who wrote that they got their start in their career working with Rosie, and so any time he mentioned her name from then on, they were donating to the Hillary Campaign,” she said. “So, I was like: ‘You know what, I’m right there with you on that pledge.’ ”
“I just think if all that he has to say is to demean people like Rosie, then that says it all,” she added. “Rosie’s work is amazing. I have a feeling that Rosie will have a lot more influence in years to come than Donald Trump will.”
“It’s pretty amazing how things have changed, and pretty sad,” continued Zuckerberg. “But I hope that Americans are smart enough and that women have enough power in this election that they can take those comments and then do what they will.”