Hillary Clinton supporters have cowered in dread that Donald Trump or the Republicans would unleash an October Surprise that would bring down her candidacy. The surprise that Hillary now dreads is that her opponent will be drummed out of the Presidential campaign before she beats him like a rented mule. David Fehrenholdt, a Washington Post reporter, disclosed an audio outtake from a 2005 Access:Hollywood appearance, in which Trump boasts about trying to bed one of the show’s former hostesses and using his star power to grope and assault women who cross his path. The audio was followed by a video showing Trump doing just that, with an attractive soap opera star.
Shortly after midnight, he aired a 90-second statement that fell short of a sincere apology. Trump denied that the audio portrayed the real Donald Trump. Then he shifted to an attack on Bill Clinton, which he threatened to continue in the Sunday debate.
Condemnation of Trump’s statements is near universal. Trump lap-dog Corey Lewandowski dismissed the furor over Trump’s statements. America is looking for a leader, he said. “We’re not electing a Sunday School teacher,” he said. Don’t tell that to the evangelicals, who were hanging in by their fingernails. They will run away from Trump after this morally reprehensible performance.
Trump’s first reaction was to offer an apology “if anyone was offended.” Then he added that Bill Clinton has said “far worse on the golf course. Not even close.” Nobody is accepting this dismissive statement as an apology. Trump is holed up in his tower, waiting for Reince Priebus to descend upon him wearing his cloak and carrying his scythe. Trump said that Reince is coming for debate prep. Its possible that Reince will leave with a reddish-blond haired scalp.
All of the tribal chieftains have slammed him: Ryan, McConnell, Priebus. Jon Huntsman has said that Pence should replace Trump as the candidate. It would be a shock if they were not talking about forcing him out of the race. They can’t kick him out but they can make it too unpleasant for him to continue. It wouldn’t have been a shocker if he skipped the debate this Sunday – he’s already decided to cancel his scheduled appearance in Wisconsin tomorrow. But Ben Ginsberg, preeminent election lawyer and former counsel to the Bush and Romney campaigns, gave the GOP little chance of salvaging the election by replacing Trump as a candidate.
Trump was having a lousy week before this audio became public. Newsweek ran a detailed story of Trump’s business failures; how Trump’s businesses failed again and again. The story of Trump’s pattern of buying state attorney generals to get them to drop investigations against him or his businesses. The Atlantic, a magazine that his given only two earlier Presidential endorsements in its 160 year history (to Lincoln in 1860 and against Goldwater in 1964), came out against Trump today. New York’s attorney general shut down the Trump Foundation. Many Republican House candidates have officially withdrawn their endorsements, and the list is growing.
Trump’s candidacy is all but done. One October question remaining is whether he will cause the GOP to lose the Senate and to drop its large majority in the House. The only other question is how much uglier will this campaign get before it’s over.