Vicious exchange between candidates
Trump says Clinton ‘would go to jail’ if he wins race
In a vicious televised debate he responded to criticism of his views about women by launching an attack on her husband, claiming he was an ‘abuser’.
He called Mrs Clinton a “devil” who repeatedly lies. She hit back by saying half of his supporters belonged in a “basket of deplorables”.
The pair took the stage in St. Louis, Missouri, for the second debate ahead of the election, but on this occasion they refused to shake hands.
Mr Trump described his comments as “locker-room talk” and said he had never kissed or groped women without their permission, despite having bragged about doing so on the video which emerged on Friday.
President Bill Clinton had done worse to women, according to Mr Trump. In a particularly nasty exchange he said he would appoint a special prosecutor to look into Mrs Clinton’s operation of a private email server during her tenure as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state from 2009-2013.
She said, “You know it’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in this country.”
Mr Trump responded: “Because you’d be in jail.”
A CNN/ORC snap poll of debate watchers found that 57% thought Mrs Clinton won the encounter, against 34% for Mr Trump. Asian shares moved higher as markets saw less chance of a Trump victory.
He is refusing to abandon his fight for the White House despite a volley of criticism from Republicans over his comments on women.
Amid fears of fresh disclosures, senior figures in the party joined a wider campaign urging him to withdraw his candidacy.
Mr Trump apologised for his comments but is defying the calls to resign. He told the Wall St Journal: “I will never, ever, give up.”
At least 33 senior Republicans – including senators, members of Congress, and state governors – have withdrawn their support since the storm erupted on Friday when the Washington Post published an 11-year-old video capturing him boasting about groping women and adultery.
“When you’re a star, they let you do it,” he says in the recording. “You can do anything.”
With his views on sexual conquests creating such a backlash political commentators are now saying it is difficult to see how he can win the presidential race.
Mr Trump trails Mrs Clinton in the polls by about 4.5 percentage points, but his references in tape recordings to his treatment of women is likely to see this gap widen in the remaining weeks of the campaign.
Paul Ryan, speaker of the House of Representatives, cancelled an invitation from Mr Trump to attend an event.
Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State in the Bush administration, said on Facebook “Enough! Donald Trump should not be President. He should withdraw.”
A number of celebrities have also turned on the billionaire businessman. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the actor and former governor of California, said that for the first time since becoming a US citizen in 1983 he will not vote for the Republican candidate.
Mr Trump’s wife Melania added her own condemnation of her husband’s comments. She said they were “unacceptable and offensive to me.
“This does not represent the man that I know. He has the heart and mind of a leader. I hope people will accept his apology, as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world.”
Some of his biggest financial backers are standing by him. Hedge fund manager Robert Mercer and his family, who have donated about $5.8 million in support of Trump, will continue to support the candidate, according to Bloomberg.
It reports Mr Mercer saying: “We are completely indifferent to Mr. Trump’s locker room braggadocio.”