Obama warns ‘democracy itself’ at stake in election
Trump denies sex assault ‘lies’, faces first lady rebuke
CLEVELAND/WASHINGTON: Donald Trump savaged the US media for reporting “outright lies” that he groped and forcibly kissed women, as US President Barack Obama warned yesterday that American “democracy itself” is on the ballot and First Lady Michelle Obama blasted the Republican nominee in a powerful tirade.
Just 26 days before the American electorate chooses a successor to her husband on Nov 8, a visibly angry first lady delivered a fiery takedown of the real estate mogul and his “disgraceful” behavior. “Now is the time for all of us to stand up and say, enough is enough,” Mrs Obama told a rally for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. “This has got to stop right now.”
Her husband turned up the heat later yesterday, jetting to the key swing state of Ohio to lash Republicans tight to their sinking ship. The New York mogul came from a “swamp of crazy” that Republicans had cultivated over decades, Obama told the state where Trump has long held a lead but where a poll on Thursday edged Clinton ahead.
Obama warned that American “democracy itself” is on the ballot. He trashed Trump as a dictator-in-the-making, but also voiced concerns about how Trump’s legion of supporters might react to a possible election defeat. “Civility is on the ballot,” Obama told a group of largely young voters in the swing state. “Tolerance is on the ballot,” he continued. “Courtesy is on the ballot. Honesty is on the ballot. Equality is on the ballot. Kindness is on the ballot. All the progress we made in the last eight years is on the ballot,” he said. “Democracy itself is on the ballot right now.”
With an eye on winning back control of Congress, Obama also used the rally in Cleveland to lash Republicans tight to their sinking White House nominee. Clinton is now the favorite to win the presidency, but the balance of the Senate and the House of Representatives is much less clear. “A lot of Republican elected officials have just stood by,” Obama said. “They’ve allowed a lot of crazy talk to just be pumped out again and again.”
But the 70-year-old Trump was defiant, castigating his accusers as “horrible liars” and accusing Clinton of conspiring in a coordinated media attempt to sabotage his campaign. At least six women have accused Trump of making unwanted physical advances in accounts reported by The New York Times, NBC, People Magazine and others, most of them after Trump asserted in Sunday’s debate with Clinton that he had never sexually assaulted a woman.
With his campaign in free-fall and sliding in the polls, Trump pounded the battleground states of Florida and Ohio. “These vicious claims about me of inappropriate conduct with women are totally and absolutely false,” Trump told a rally in West Palm Beach. “The attacks are orchestrated by the Clintons and their media allies.” Trump said his lawyers were preparing a lawsuit against The New York Times - which published the accounts of two women who accused him of groping and kissing them unless the paper retracts the article.
The Times refused to back down. “We published newsworthy information about a subject of deep public concern,” the paper’s assistant general counsel David McCraw wrote in a letter to Trump’s lawyers. The women’s accusations surfaced after a video emerged of Trump boasting in 2005 of groping women with impunity because he was famous, sending the White House race into unprecedented levels of vulgarity.
US President Barack Obama arrives to speak at a Hillary for America campaign event in Cleveland yesterday. (Inset) Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to a crowd at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati on Thursday.—