US: Trump defiant hours before second debate
Republican nominee trying to quell voices for him to bow out presidential race after lewd comments about women
Battle lines have been drawn for the second presidential debate Sunday, but the big item on the agenda is not foreign or domestic policy.
It is not even the economy. It is personal affairs.
The presidential campaign took a definite shade of blue in the past three days after a decade-old video of Republican hopeful Donald Trump was revealed by the Washington Post in which the candidate made extremely lewd remarks that objectify women.
In the 2005 footage, Trump talked about preying on married women, groping and assaulting women, and asserts that "when you are a star they let you do it ... you can do anything, whatever you want."
The revelation came on the heels of Trump’s threats to expose the first family experience of his rival, Hillary Clinton, with Trump calling her an "enabler" for her husband and former President Bill Clinton’s romantic exploits.
Clinton tweeted following the release of the video: "Women have the power to stop Trump".
The saga could get even worse. The real estate mogul is also a reality TV star from The Apprentice and one of the show's producers, Bill Pruitt, tweeted Saturday, "when it comes to #trumptapes there are far worse", calling it "#justthebeginning".
President Barack Obama remained silent since the newest scandal broke Friday but he told a crowd in Chicago on Sunday the video, a "disturbing" example of "unbelievable rhetoric" in the presidential race, showed the candidate "demeaning" and "degrading" women.
"It tells you he is insecure enough that he pumps himself up by putting other people down," Obama said. "Not a character trait that I would advise for somebody in the Oval Office.”
Hours before the debate Sunday evening, Trump looked defiant but battle-scarred.
He has been defiant from his first off-hand apology onward, calling the scandal "nothing more than a revelation".
"Anyone who knows me knows that these words don't reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize," he said. "I pledge to be a better man tomorrow, and will never, ever let you down."
Many high-profile Republican backers have already abandoned the Trump bandwagon, with others looking poised to jump off in accordance with the post-debate climate.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Republican presidential candidate John McCain have each dropped support for the real estate mogul in the wake of the scandal. "Enough! Donald Trump should not be President. He should withdraw," Rice said in a Facebook post. McCain said in a statement that Trump’s comments "make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy".
Meanwhile on Twitter, Trump praised the "tremendous" support for his apology, "except for some Republican 'leadership'", accusing party members of being "self-righteous hypocrites". "Watch their poll numbers - and elections - go down!" he said. Trump has said he would not quite the race.
Several high-ranking Republican lawmakers who are running for reelection have also chastised Trump and pledged not to vote for him. Lisa Murkowski said Trump has "forfeited the right to be our party's nominee".
The fallout was so toxic that a new camp formed in support for vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, who dueled against his Democratic counterpart Tim Kaine last week, to be the Republican candidate for president.
"Mike Pence should be our nominee effective immediately," said Sen. John Thune, while South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard said "this election is too important" to continue to support Trump.
Pence said he does not "condone" and "cannot defend" Trump's comments but is "grateful that he has expressed remorse and apologized".Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.