Obama hits ‘crazy’ Republicans as Trump falters
COLUMBUS — Barack Obama sought to lash Republicans tight to their sinking White House nominee Donald Trump, as the outgoing US president visited the key swing state of Ohio on Thursday.
With an eye on winning back control of Congress, Obama blamed Republicans writ large for backing a candidate who “proves himself unfit and unqualified” for the presidency “every time he talks.”
Obama said that Trump came from a “swamp of crazy” that Republicans had cultivated over decades.
“They’ve been riding this tiger for a long time,” he said. “They’ve been feeding their base all kinds of crazy for years.”
Taking aim at the scandal over Trump’s bragging about groping women, Obama said that Republicans who have not disowned him should not be let off the hook. “They don’t get credit for, at the very last minute when finally the guy that they nominated and they endorsed and they supported, is caught on tape saying things that no decent person would even think, much less say, much less brag about, much less laugh about or joke about, much less act on.”
“The people who knew better didn’t say anything,” Obama said. “They stood by while this happened.”
“And Donald Trump — as he is prone to do — he didn’t build the building himself, he just slapped his name on it and took credit for it.”
Hillary Clinton is now the favourite to win the White House, but the balance of the Senate and the House of Representatives is much less clear.
Republicans have controlled both houses of Congress for the entirety of Obama’s second term, thwarting many of his policy goals.
They are now fighting a rear-guard action to retain control, arguing implicitly that there needs to be a congressional check on a Clinton White House.
Obama’s remarks came in the usually pivotal battleground state, where Trump has long held a lead. A poll on Thursday had Clinton marginally ahead. But the state’s Democratic Senate nominee Ted Strickland — who appeared on stage with Obama — is getting pummelled.
Meanwhile, Trump has denied multiple women’s claims that he sexually assaulted them as “totally and absolutely false”.
“The claims are preposterous, ludicrous and defy truth, common sense and logic,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Florida.
“We already have substantial evidence to dispute these lies, and it will be made public in an appropriate way and at an appropriate time, very soon.”
Two women accused Trump of inappropriate touching in a story published on Wednesday by The New York Times, just four weeks before the November 8 election.
The report was followed by a stream of similar allegations from other women, putting more pressure on the Trump campaign as it lags in national opinion polls and struggles to contain a crisis caused by the candidate’s comments about groping women without their consent that surfaced on Friday.
One of the women, Jessica Leeds, appeared on camera on The Times’ website to recount how Trump allegedly grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt on a flight to New York in or around 1980.
The second woman, Rachel Crooks, described how Trump allegedly “kissed me directly on the mouth” in 2005 outside the elevator in Trump Tower in Manhattan, where she was a receptionist at a real estate firm.
Trump’s campaign denied there was any truth to the accounts. It made public a letter to the newspaper from Marc Kasowitz, a lawyer representing Trump, demanding it retract the story, calling it “libellous” and threatening legal action if it did not comply.
“We stand by the story, which falls clearly into the realm of public service journalism,” a New York Times spokeswoman said.
The report comes two days after a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll showed one-in-five Republicans said they thought Trump’s comments about groping women disqualified him from the presidency, and put him eight points behind Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton among likely voters.— Al Jazeera