Trump not backing down

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Trump not backing down
The Defiance Crescent-News ^ | October 13, 2016 | Carl Leubsdorf

Posted on 10/13/2016, 10:11:23 AM by 2ndDivisionVet

After his own crude comments nearly KO’ed his campaign, Donald Trump’s aggressive counter-attack reassured supporters he’ll press the fight until Election Day in hopes that will keep more top Republicans from abandoning his candidacy.

But House Speaker Paul Ryan told fellow Republicans on Monday that he’ll concentrate on House elections rather than defending Trump. And the GOP nominee’s no-holds-barred assault on Hillary Clinton in their second televised debate did little to expand his conservative base and stem her increasing prospects for winning the presidency.

Indeed, his unyielding stance including a threat to prosecute his rival may create further headaches for GOP candidates, who are aware Trump’s many offensive comments have turned off swing voters but are fearful of losing votes from his fervent supporters.

With polls showing Clinton leading nationally and in most swing states, Trump entered Sunday night’s confrontation at St. Louis’ Washington University facing increasing questions about his campaign’s future after Friday’s disclosure of audio tapes displaying his crude comments about his relationships with women.

Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, signaled he succeeded in averting imminent disaster. Though Trump openly disagreed with the Indiana governor on Syrian policy …, Pence showed immediately after the testy session he was ready to put aside his own weekend doubts that prompted speculation he might quit the ticket.

“Congrats to my running mate @realDonaldTrump on a big debate win,” tweeted Pence, who canceled weekend appearances after Friday’s disclosure of the Trump’ tapes. “Proud to stand with you.”

… CNN’s post-debate poll of debate watchers showed more than half thought Trump exceeded expectations but still rated Clinton the winner by a comfortable margin.

Unlike their first debate, Trump was aggressive from the outset, countering the expected question about his own behavior and language with a long-telegraphed attack on Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Before an audience including three women who more than 20 years ago accused the former president of sexual misconduct and a rape victim whose accuser Hillary Clinton defended, Trump dismissed his graphic words as “locker room talk,” adding, “If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse. Mine are words and his was action.”

… When the subject turned to the oft-discussed question whether she withheld some of her emails from the FBI investigation that cleared her, Trump said, “If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there has never been so many lies.”

“It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country,” Clinton replied. “Because you’d be in jail,” Trump countered.

Later, Trump may have increased his political problems about refusing to release his income tax returns. Co-moderator Anderson Cooper of CNN asked if he used a $916 million 1995 loss to avoid paying personal income taxes in ensuing years. “Of course, I do,” Trump replied. “And so do most of her donors.”

Trump repeatedly accused Clinton of lying, saying “she has tremendous hate in her heart” and showing that, unlike their first debate, he was far better prepared to counter her points.

Asked about WikiLeaks’ recent release of emails quoting her defending politicians who have both private and public stances on issues, Clinton explained she was talking about President Abraham Lincoln’s tactics winning congressional approval of the 13th Amendment.

“Now, she’s blaming that lie on the late, great Abraham Lincoln,” Trump interjected, adding, “Honest Abe never lied. That’s the big difference between Abraham Lincoln and you.”

Trump’s criticism of Pence came when co-moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News asked about his comment that, if Russia continues air strikes supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the United States should be prepared to strike “the military targets of the Assad regime.”

“He and I haven’t spoken, and I disagree,” Trump replied, a rare display of discord between presidential and vice presidential nominees during a campaign.

But Pence said Monday on MSNBC that Raddatz mischaracterized his stance. He praised Trump for “expressing genuine contrition and remorse,” adding he believes “he hasn’t engaged in any of that behavior.”

But amid rumors of further Trump disclosures, Sunday night’s fervent denials may hardly have resolved that issue — or the extent of potential damage.

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