WASHINGTON – Sexual harassment, sexual predatory behavior, sexual assault.
GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump’s admitted sleazy treatment of women will dominate the third and final presidential debate Wednesday at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, moderated by Fox News’ Chris Wallace.
It’s hard to imagine how low it can go.
The second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis took place a few days after the “Access Hollywood” 2005 tape surfaced with Trump bragging about how he was able to get away with grabbing women and kissing them at will because he was famous.
“I have tremendous respect for women,” Trump said at the debate. CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked him if he ever did those things that he was boasting about.
Trump said no.
That denial did it.
As I write this on Friday night, eight women have come forward – on the record – with allegations of Trump groping, specifically in one case reaching under a skirt to touch a vagina through underwear. Another woman told how Trump walked around a beauty pageant dressing room to ogle undressed contestants.
All she did was back up one of Trump’s few truthful claims. A recording bubbled up of Trump telling Howard Stern how he got to check out naked contestant in their dressing room because he owned the pageant.
Trump called his accusers liars and unattractive.
He is obsessed with how women look. He can’t let it go.
Trump went so far in a Friday speech as to suggest that one of the women accusing him of groping was not pretty enough for him to bother with her.
Jessica Leeds is now 74. She told the New York Times on Wednesday that Trump put his hands all over her in the 1980s when they sat next to each other during a flight.
“Believe me, she would not be my first choice — that I can tell you,” he said at a rally in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Every woman who accused him of sexual misconduct was a “phony” with their allegations “100 percent made up,” he said at the rally.
And Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton isn’t attractive enough, Trump suggested.
During the last debate, she “walked in front of me. I wasn’t impressed.”
Well, how did we get here?
How did we come to this sorry point? There’s going to be a lot of self-reflection when this campaign is over about why there is such an eager audience for Trump’s scorched-earth attacks, prideful ignorance and conspiracy theories.
Trump is willfully not doing the minimal effort it would take to even try to appeal beyond his base vote; that base is sticking with him despite the allegations of sexual misconduct. Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University and a leading evangelical, said Friday he believed Trump’s denials.
Campaigning for Clinton Friday in battleground Ohio, Obama called out Republicans who were afraid to criticize Trump – even as Trump disregards the moral values they hold dear.
“And a lot of Republican elected officials have just stood by, a lot of House members, a lot of senators – they stood by and they didn’t say anything because it was a way to rile up their base and it was a way to mount opposition to whatever we were trying to do,” Obama said.
That’s been a constant for Obama, nearing the end of his eight-years in office.
“It’s part of why I’m disturbed about Republican elected officials who know better but are still supporting this guy. … I mean, I know that some of them now are walking away, but why’d it take you this long? You said you were — you’re the party of family values. What, you weren’t appalled earlier when he was saying degrading things about women, when he was judging them based on a score of, are they a 2 or a 10? That wasn’t enough for you? You’re walking away from him now. It wasn’t disturbing enough for you when he was saying Mexicans who come here are rapists or suggesting that … patriotic Americans of the Islamic faith somehow are suspect and should be treated differently? “
Said Obama, “That wasn’t enough?”
For the record: Wednesday, the official debate topics are “debt and entitlements; immigration; economy; Supreme Court; foreign hot spots and fitness to be president.”