The past several days have cemented the 2016 presidential election as one of the most unconventional in American history, as GOP leaders abandon their presidential nominee less than a month before the general election. Considering the first presidential debate broke viewership records, odds are that tonight’s debate will also go down in the books.
A quick recap: on Friday, The Washington Post released a three-minute video of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaking to Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” in 2005. In the recording, Trump discusses his advances towards a married woman (“I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there”), how his fame allows him to take advantage of women (“When you’re a star, they let you do it”) and how, regardless of consent, he can “grab them by the p—-y.”
On Saturday, CNN added to the political chaos by releasing segments of almost two-decades worth of interviews between Howard Stern and Trump. “Among the topics Trump discussed: his daughter Ivanka’s physique, having sex with women on their menstrual cycles, threesomes, and checking out of a relationship with women after they turn 35,” CNN writes.
The flood of recordings incited immediate outrage on both sides of the aisle, and handfuls of top Republicans have since renounced their endorsements of the nominee. Trump initially apologized “if anyone was offended,” but as the outrage grew, he released a longer video apology.
However, Trump has continued to deliver uninhibited remarks about the controversy via his Twitter account, and has only responded negatively towards the Republicans who have spoken out against him:
The media and establishment want me out of the race so badly - I WILL NEVER DROP OUT OF THE RACE, WILL NEVER LET MY SUPPORTERS DOWN! #MAGA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2016
Tremendous support (except for some Republican “leadership”). Thank you.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2016
So many self-righteous hypocrites. Watch their poll numbers – and elections – go down!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2016
Twitter was only the beginning of Trump’s attacks on the Republicans who have publicly disavowed him. “In a set of talking points sent to supporters on Sunday morning, Mr. Trump instructed his backers to attack Republican leaders — and vowed to win without them,” The New York Times reports. “While some strategists have suggested that Mr. Trump should strike a humble tone at the debate, many are bracing for the tenor to become even nastier.”
Based on remarks made by Trump throughout the past several days, his strategy for the town-hall style debate tonight at Washington University in St. Louis is to try and turn the tables by reminding viewers of Bill Clinton’s indiscretions while in office. “Mr. Trump has been threatening for weeks that he would force Mrs. Clinton to respond directly to old allegations of harassment and assault against her husband in front of a national audience of tens of millions of people,” The New York Times continues. “Mr. Trump is clearly enraged by news media coverage of his own offensive and inappropriate behavior, and believes that hypocrisy and special treatment have deflected attention from Mr. Clinton.”
Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, still has her own challenges moving forward. While much of the mainstream media swarmed around the lewd Trump recordings, WikiLeaks released a new set of emails that contain segments of her private speeches made to Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs. In April 2013, for example, she told her private audience that politicians “need both a public and a private position” on policies. She will likely have to face questions on these emails during the debate tonight.
And the Trump campaign continues to fear additional leaks of inappropriate content from past episodes of “The Apprentice.” Buzzfeed reports:
A powerful Hollywood ally of Donald Trump has threatened staffers who could release potentially damaging outtakes of the show, a source close to Mark Burnett told BuzzFeed News.
Burnett, the producer of The Apprentice, and his production company have not responded to requests for comment from BuzzFeed News and many other outlets since grotesque outtakes from another show rocked Trump’s campaign Friday, even as former staffers have suggested on Twitter (without clear evidence) that The Apprentice material could be just as damaging. …
More than 20 former contestants, crew members, and editors told the Associated Press that Trump treated women on the show inappropriately, including talking about which contestants he would like to have sex with and rating them by breast size.
This is just a handful of recent events that will influence the direction of tonight’s debate. While many believe that the pressure is on Trump to pull himself out of the political minefield, Clinton faces equal pressure to perform appropriately in tonight’s town hall. And ultimately, the unprecedented developments of the past few days take away from serious topics that Americans want their Commander in Chief to address.
“A large number of issues have simply been absent from the conversation this campaign — such as health care, energy, job creation and economic growth,” NPR writes. “Will voters tonight ask for specifics on any of these topics, or are they happy to watch another chapter in the food fight that campaign 2016 has become?”
Follow along as Truthdig live-blogs tonight’s critical second presidential debate. We’ll be looking at your comments as the evening progresses, so be sure to give us your thoughts in the section at the bottom of the page. Finally, you can live-stream the debate through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook (also in Spanish) and more. The debate begins at 6 p.m. PDT / 9 p.m. EDT.
—Posted by Emma Niles