- Donald Trump posts apology video on Facebook
- He faces an avalanche of criticism from Republicans, including running partner Mike Pence and his own wife, Melania
- Democrats stay silent
- Trump dismisses calls for him to step aside in presidential race
- Expectations altered for Sunday’s town hall debate in St Louis
- “Expect Armageddon!”
With his campaign in crisis, Donald Trump is vowing to stay in the race for the White House. This is despite calls from more than two dozen prominent Republicans for the controversial billionaire to step aside, following the release of a 2005 tape recording of him making lewd comments about women. Trump is due to appear alongside Democrat Hillary Clinton on Sunday in their second debate in the run-up to the US presidential election in a month’s time.
Damage control – “I said it, I was wrong and I apologise.”
Donald Trump posted a recorded apology on his Facebook page on Saturday.
“Anyone who knows me, knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologise,”Trump said in the video.
He also tried to shift the focus onto his opponent, Hillary Clinton, and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Backlash from Republican elite
Trump’s mea culpa does not seem to have done much good.
More than 60 former-and-currently prominent Republicans have issued statements condemning his remarks about women.
They include House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain.
More than 20 have called for him to abandon his presidential campaign.
Trump’s vice-presidential running mate has also issued a critical statement on Twitter.
However, Mike Pence has indicated he will continue to support the front-runner, despite calls for Trump to step aside and let Pence be the Republican’s presidential nominee.
By Saturday, these Republicans announced they would not vote for Trump or called on him to step aside:
Shelley Moore Capito
Former Presidential candidates:
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has also called on Trump to quit.
“Insulting and indefensible” – what the Republicans are saying (including Mrs Trump)
Both Trump’s wife and his running mate have voiced their criticism, describing his comments as insulting and indefensible.
In a statement, Melania Trump called her husband’s words “unacceptable and inoffensive to me.”
“This does not represent the man that I know. He has the heart and mind of a leader.”
“I hope people will accept his apology, as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world.”
“As a husband and a father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump,” said Mike Pence, who is governor of Indiana.
“Donald Trump’s behaviour this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy,” – Senator John McCain.
Has anyone come out in support of Trump?
Some prominent Republicans say they will stick with him.
- Ralph Reed (head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition)
- Tony Perkins (head of the Family Research Council)
“I think ten years ago, he was a different man. I am very glad that he quickly apologised,” – Republican Jack Kingston from Georgia.
What the Democrats are saying
They have remained largely silent, possibly preferring to let the Republicans attack one of their own.
However, Vice President Joe Biden has taken to Twitter to say, “The words are demeaning. Such behaviour is an abuse of power. It is not lewd, it is sexual assault.”
Insiders say Hillary Clinton was not expected to address Trump’s video before Sunday’s televised debate.
What the polls are saying
Even before news broke of the Trump tape, Clinton was surging in the polls ahead of Sunday’s second televised debate.
Pollsters FiveThirtyEight had already boosted her chances of winning up to 79.6%.
The Quinnipiac University polling centre also suggests Clinton leads Trump nationally by five points.
Can Trump be replaced as Republican nominee?
Speaking outside Trump Tower in New York on Saturday evening, Trump said he would remain in the race “100 percent”.
There is no precedent for a major party to replace its nominee this late in the campaign.
However, the Republican Party can invoke what is known as “Rule 9” from its own statute, whereby a candidate can be forced to stand down if three-quarters of the party’s National Committee demand it.
It is not clear whether the party is prepared to do this.
Sunday’s debate – will it get dirty?
- Prime time TV debate
- Washington University, St Louis
- Millions of viewers
- “Town Hall” format i.e. questions will be taken directly from voters
Strategists think it may well do. Facing the fallout and related onslaught,Trump may feel he now has nothing to lose. “Expect Armageddon,” one Democrat source close to the campaign has reportedly said.
In his weekend video, Trump sought to focus on the Clintons in a bid to deflect attention away from himself.
“Bill Clinton has actually abused women, and Hillary Clinton has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days,” he is quoted as saying.
Trump also retweeted Juanita Broaddrick, who accused Bill Clinton of raping her in 1978.
Clinton denies the accusation, which came to light in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky affair.
“To the extent that he has any chance left at all – and I do not think he does – this debate is to do or die for him. Her (Hillary Clinton’s) goal is to do no harm and relate to others,” Democrat strategist Robert Shrum told Politico.