U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to a question from audience member Lauren Batchelder at the No Labels Problem Solver Convention in Manchester, New Hampshire October 12, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to a question from audience member Lauren Batchelder at the No Labels Problem Solver Convention in Manchester, New Hampshire October 12, 2015. (Reuters/Brian Snyder)

By Michael Walsh
October 17, 2015 | 2:40pm

Back in the days of Richard Nixon and Watergate, Donald Segretti had a word for it.

Unfortunately, I can’t use that word in a family newspaper, but suffice it to say it had something to do with rats and everything to do with a vulgarism for political dirty tricks: using plants and double-agents in order to embarrass a candidate and boost their own man’s chances.

Last week it was GOP front-runner Donald Trump’s turn to get, well, ratfreaked.

A young woman at a campaign event in New Hampshire — self-righteous, hands on hips, a-quiver with indignation — popped up to declare, “I don’t think you’re a friend to women.” (“I knew I shouldn’t have picked her,” Trump immediately joked.)

Oops. Turns out that the woman, identified as Lauren Batchelder, 18, is a college volunteer for the fading candidacy of Jeb Bush.

The Bush campaign immediately backpedaled away — but not before getting its digs in: “While this question was not sanctioned by the campaign,” said a Jeb spokeswoman, “we can’t help but notice Mr. Trump does seem to be very sensitive about being challenged by women.”

Given that Trump has been married to three high-profile women and has an equally high-profile daughter, Ivanka, that’s doubtful.

The Trump phenomenon is giving professional politicians a severe case of heartburn.

But it illustrates that in the age of the outsider candidate (Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina), the GOP establishment is having a devil of a time figuring out a way to stop him.

Trump currently maintains his lead in the Real Clear Politics average of national polls, with Carson second and Fiorina in fourth place behind Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

This wasn’t the first time Trump has had to face questioners of dubious provenance. Last month in a rally in New Hampshire, a still-unidentified man sporting a Trump T-shirt popped up to opine that, “We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims. We know our current president is one.”

Trump’s typically New York-style reaction to the statement was one of laughter and “we need this question.”

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