Hard to see Trump clawing his way out of this mess

EDITORIAL

Yesterday’s second presidential debate could well come to be seen as the twilight or even the end of Donald Trump’s campaign for the White House.

Just 48 hours before the debate, Trump was seriously wounded by the release of a 2005 video of him making lewd comments about women that would not have been out of place coming from the objectionable Auckland Roast Busters group, rather than someone who wanted to lead the free world.

It was a classic example of what political commentators call the October surprise — a development late in the election campaign that occurs too late to be rectified.

Trump immediately fell to 11 points behind Hillary Clinton in an NBC poll, piling pressure on him to make up ground in the debate.

His performance would not have impressed neutral observers. It started with a bizarre pre-debate press conference at which he paraded four women who said they were victims of former president Bill Clinton. Then in the debate he said that on winning the election, he would instruct his attorney general to arrest and charge Hillary Clinton.

Students of body language would have seen much to interest them in the way Trump remained restless and stood immediately behind Clinton as she spoke, which incidentally led to some hilarious memes on social media.

Trump and his diehard supporters have defended what they are describing as locker-room banter of the sort men resort to when they believe no women are listening.

Most concerning for Trump is the fact more and more senior Republicans are deserting him. Among those who say they will not vote for him are the 2008 presidential candidate John McCain, while the highest-ranking elected Republican Paul Ryan says he will no longer defend him.

Part of this of course is self-interest by Republican candidates facing tight battles down the ballot in November, who do not want Trump to drag them under.

It has been a week from hell for Trump and it is hard to see how the brazen property magnate can claw his way out of this mess.

Yesterday’s second presidential debate could well come to be seen as the twilight or even the end of Donald Trump’s campaign for the White House.

Just 48 hours before the debate, Trump was seriously wounded by the release of a 2005 video of him making lewd comments about women that would not have been out of place coming from the objectionable Auckland Roast Busters group, rather than someone who wanted to lead the free world.

It was a classic example of what political commentators call the October surprise — a development late in the election campaign that occurs too late to be rectified.

Trump immediately fell to 11 points behind Hillary Clinton in an NBC poll, piling pressure on him to make up ground in the debate.

His performance would not have impressed neutral observers. It started with a bizarre pre-debate press conference at which he paraded four women who said they were victims of former president Bill Clinton. Then in the debate he said that on winning the election, he would instruct his attorney general to arrest and charge Hillary Clinton.

Students of body language would have seen much to interest them in the way Trump remained restless and stood immediately behind Clinton as she spoke, which incidentally led to some hilarious memes on social media.

Trump and his diehard supporters have defended what they are describing as locker-room banter of the sort men resort to when they believe no women are listening.

Most concerning for Trump is the fact more and more senior Republicans are deserting him. Among those who say they will not vote for him are the 2008 presidential candidate John McCain, while the highest-ranking elected Republican Paul Ryan says he will no longer defend him.

Part of this of course is self-interest by Republican candidates facing tight battles down the ballot in November, who do not want Trump to drag them under.

It has been a week from hell for Trump and it is hard to see how the brazen property magnate can claw his way out of this mess.

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