New con­tro­ver­sies, old tape jar Trump cam­paign

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE -

The can­di­date reels un­der a bar­rage of mis­steps fol­lowed by rev­e­la­tions about lewd com­ments he made re­gard­ing women.

NEW YORK » Don­ald Trump reeled Fri­day un­der a bar­rage of ma­jor cam­paign mis­steps fol­lowed by rev­e­la­tions about lewd com­ments he made about women sev­eral years ago, un­der­min­ing the Repub­li­can’s at­tempts to steady a pres­i­den­tial bid at risk of im­plod­ing.

Trump tried to head off some of the dam­age by is­su­ing a state­ment apol­o­giz­ing if “any­one was of­fended” by vul­gar re­marks cap­tured in a 2005 video and made pub­lic Fri­day for the first time. In the record­ing ob­tained by The Wash­ing­ton Post and NBC News, Trump de­scribes try­ing to have sex with a mar­ried woman and brags about women let­ting him kiss and grab them be­cause he is fa­mous.

“When you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do any­thing.”

He added sec­onds later, “Grab them by the p---y. You can do any­thing.”

Hil­lary Clin­ton seized on her ri­val’s com­ments, call­ing them “hor­rific.” She said in a Twit­ter mes­sage: “We can­not al­low this man to be­come pres­i­dent.”

The rev­e­la­tions come two days be­fore Trump and Clin­ton meet in Sun­day’s sec­ond pres­i­den­tial de­bate, with the Repub­li­can ur­gently in need of a strong per­for­mance. After his un­even show­ing in the first con­test, pub­lic opin­ion polls have showed Clin­ton pulling ahead in nearly all bat­tle­ground states, some of which are al­ready in the midst of early vot­ing.

Trump ad­vis­ers planned for him to spend a quiet Fri­day pre­par­ing for the de­bate and meet­ing with bor­der se­cu­rity of­fi­cials. But the day was quickly con­sumed by a se­ries of con­tro­ver­sies, in­clud­ing Trump’s un­sub­stan­ti­ated claim about im­mi­grants in the U.S. il­le­gally vot­ing in the elec­tion and his ques­tion­ing the in­no­cence of five black teenagers ex­on­er­ated in a 1989 rape case.

Then there were new signs of un­usual links be­tween Trump and Rus­sia. For the first time, the U.S. pub­licly blamed the Rus­sian govern­ment for hack­ing the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee and ac­cused Moscow of try­ing to in­ter­fere with the Amer­i­can elec­tion. Diplo­mats also told The As­so­ci­ated Press that Rus­sia had lodged a for­mal com­plaint last month with the United Na­tions over a top U.N. of­fi­cial’s con­dem­na­tions of Trump. “It should con­cern ev­ery Amer­i­can that Rus­sia is will­ing to en­gage in such hos­tile acts in or­der to help Don­ald Trump be­come pres­i­dent of the United States,” Clin­ton cam­paign chair­man John Podesta said of the hack­ing.

Also in the mix Fri­day: New ques­tions about the Trump cam­paign’s fi­nances. With roughly a month un­til Elec­tion Day, the cam­paign has yet to sched­ule the $100 mil­lion in tele­vi­sion ad­ver­tis­ing that his cam­paign boasted about just two weeks ago. The cam­paign has just half that amount sched­uled, and late this week shifted ad money around rather than in­creas­ing its over­all in­vest­ment, sug­gest­ing a bit of penny-pinch­ing even as the clock winds down.

That could mean his fundrais­ing has slowed, and that he’s less will­ing to write a big per­sonal check as he once promised.

While Trump has sur­vived nu­mer­ous con­tro­ver­sies that would have sunk other can­di­dates, Fri­day’s de­vel­op­ments come at a cru­cial mo­ment in the race. Less than five weeks from Elec­tion Day, Trump still needs to ex­pand his sup­port to over­take Clin­ton, and is strug­gling in par­tic­u­lar with mi­nori­ties and women.

The un­earthed video of Trump’s 2005 com­ments seemed likely to make any ef­fort to win over women ex­ceed­ingly more dif­fi­cult.

In the tape, Trump is caught on a live mi­cro­phone while talk­ing with Billy Bush of “Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood.” The can­di­date is heard say­ing “I did try and f--- her. She was mar­ried.” He also uses graphic terms to de­scribe the woman’s body and says he fre­quently tries to kiss beau­ti­ful women.

In a state­ment shortly after the tape was re­vealed, Trump called his com­ments “locker room ban­ter” and a “pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion that took place many years ago.”

“Bill Clin­ton has said far worse to me on the golf course — not even close,” he said. “I apol­o­gize if any­one was of­fended.”

Ear­lier Fri­day, in his meet­ing on bor­der se­cu­rity, Trump said bor­der agents have been told to al­low im­mi­grants into the United States il­le­gally “so they can vote in the elec­tion.” He of­fered no ev­i­dence to sup­port his most re­cent claim that pres­i­den­tial vot­ing may be tainted by fraud.

“They are let­ting peo­ple pour into the coun­try so they can go ahead and vote,” he re­sponded, say­ing the story would be ig­nored by the me­dia. He was re­spond­ing to com­ments from Art Del Cueto, a vice pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Bor­der Pa­trol Coun­cil, who told the can­di­date that of­fi­cials in the U.S. are be­ing di­rected to ig­nore im­mi­grants’ crim­i­nal his­to­ries and speed up cit­i­zen­ship ap­pli­ca­tions.

The New York busi­ness­man also weighed in on the con­tentious racially charged “Cen­tral Park Five” rape case, in which five black teenagers were con­victed in the at­tack on a 28-year-old white woman jog­ging through the park in New York City.

EVAN VUCCI — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump, right, shakes hands with Art Del Cueto dur­ing a Fri­day meet­ing at Trump Tower in Man­hat­tan with mem­bers of the Na­tional Bor­der Pa­trol Coun­cil. Del Cueto is a vice pres­i­dent of the coun­cil.

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