Showbiz-ogyny

Trump gave this explanation Thursday to a Nevada TV interviewer for some of his past insults of women, which polls show have cost him support with female voters:

“A lot of that was done for the purpose of entertainment,” he responded. “There’s nobody that has more respect for women than I do.”

That doesn’t quite explain why he’s kept it up since becoming a candidate, such as his “bimbo” retweet at Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, his double-down put-down about a former Miss Universe’s weight and — during the Hofstra debate — his “She deserves it” defense of calling Rosie O’Donnell a “pig” and “slob.”

As it happens, there was a chance encounter Wednesday night at Manhattan’s Nobu restaurant between O’Donnell and the candidate’s daughter Ivanka, who has tried to repair his image with women.

O’Donnell tweeted afterward: “@IvankaTrump... i thank u 4 listening - mother 2 mother ...my best 2 u.”

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Radio gaga

Before Twitter, one of Trump’s top forums for expounding on everything from women to the Iraq War was “The Howard Stern Show.” Its archives have been a mother lode for 2016 political researchers.

Shock jock Stern would goad Trump into saying outrageous things and the attention-loving mogul would eagerly play along, according to a retrospective on their on-air relationship by Politico.

The take-away: Debate 2 preview

There will be a taste of the unpredictable in the second presidential debate Sunday night because half the questions will come from an audience of uncommitted voters picked by the nonpartisan Gallup Organization.

Both candidates risk spontaneous error in the town hall format — and both have a shot at the prized moment where they visibly win someone over with a convincing reply, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

Meet them in St. Louis

Trump and his allies say he plans to stay focused on policy, and not attacks, in the St. Louis debate, The Washington Post reports. In an email to The New York Post’s Page Six, Trump said, “I want to win this election on my policies for the future, not Bill Clinton’s past.”

One of Trump’s coaches is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a veteran of raucous Garden State town halls.

Clinton mined her first debate for Trump clips to use against him in ads and will be looking to do likewise again, The Washington Post said.

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Clinton emails and the White House spin

The president's office kept close contact with Clinton's formative presidential campaign in early 2015 her e-mail problems and Congressional probes, according to documents obtained by the Republican National Committee and partially released to the Wall Street Journal.

At one point the White House communications director asked her peer at the State Department to see if Secretary of State John Kerry could avoid reporters' questions about her now-famous use of a private server.

Eye of the storm

The threat to Florida, a critical swing state, from Hurricane Matthew created treacherous conditions for campaign strategists.

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Earlier this week, Clinton’s campaign bought ads to air in Florida on The Weather Channel, which figured to get a spike in viewers. On Thursday, the brain trust thought better of it and asked that the ads be delayed until the storm passes.

“This is a colossally huge and unforced error by the Clinton camp. Insensitive,” tweeted a former aide to former Gov. Jeb Bush’s unsuccessful presidential campaign.

Clinton’s campaign also asked Republican Gov. Rick Scott and other Florida officials to extend the state’s Tuesday voter registration deadline because of the storm, but the governor rebuffed that request.

Immigration ban for who?

The Muslim immigration ban Trump proposed last year no longer exists, running mate Mike Pence said Thursday — it’s now a suspension of immigration from “countries that have been so compromised by terrorism that we can’t know for certain who those people are.”

But Trump has never abandoned his original plan, even though he stopped using the word “Muslim,” The Washington Post says. His campaign website still shows his call for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

More clearly, Trump has now changed his position on what was wrong with audio equipment in the first debate against Clinton. 

What else is happening

  • The New York State Republican Party is paying for Trump mailings in Iowa, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Times Union of Albany reported. Trump has a better shot in those battleground states than in New York.
  • House Speaker Paul Ryan, whose relationship with Trump is rocky, will appear with him Saturday at an annual fall festival in Wisconsin.
  • GOP defections continue as 30 former Republican Congressmen come out against Trump, including New Yorkers Sherwood Boehlert and Amo Houghton, Jr.
  • Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani’s daughter, Caroline, says on her Facebook page that she is pro-Clinton. “My dad knows ... and is fully comfortable with it and thinks I have a right to my opinion,” she told Politico.
  • Michelle Obama’s surrogate appearances for Clinton match where Democrats are most concerned about turnout among young and African-American voters — North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania, The New York Times says.
  • President Barack Obama’s approval rating is 55% in a new CNN/ORC poll, the highest mark of his second term. That’s good news for Clinton, his hoped-for successor.
  • Tim Kaine criticized Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson for equating the targeting of noncombatants by the Syrian government with accidental bombings of civilians by U.S.-backed forces as “incredibly disrespectful to the troops.”
  • Johnson's stumbles may be to Clinton's benefit -- if you presume as some poll interpretations suggested that he was likely to take more votes from her than from Trump.
  • Despite new voter-ID laws, the Justice Department is cutting back on observers inside polling stations this year, the Washington Post reports.