Mutually assured destruction

On multiple occasions in the past 18 years, Donald Trump voiced ridicule for the women involved in sexual misconduct allegations against Bill Clinton.

“It’s just a really unattractive group,” he said once. He called Paula Jones “a loser.”

Now, as a presidential candidate reeling from vulgar caught-on-video boasts about forcing himself on women, he has made the accusers’ grievances his own. And at a rally Monday, Trump was unashamedly candid about why: fear there are more such embarrassing tapes of his own misbehavior still to come.

“If they want to release more tapes saying inappropriate things, we’ll continue to talk about Bill and Hillary Clinton doing inappropriate things,” he told a crowd in western Pennsylvania. "There are so many of them, folks.”

Jones and the others look better to him than they used to. “We brought four wonderful women to St. Louis. And, honestly, it was both very beautiful and very sad,” he said.

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Clinton rewinds the tape

In Detroit, Clinton said Trump can’t downplay his comments in the video as “locker room talk.” She called it further proof of the “terrible way he treats women.”

Clinton made her comments about Trump at a rally at Wayne State University, where she tried to spur millennials in early-voting states to register and support her bid for the White House, reports Newsday’s Emily Ngo.

Later, at Ohio State University, she said of the debate: “I’m not sure you’ll ever see anything like that again. At least I hope you won’t.”

Grabbed by his poll numbers

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll — taken after the “Access Hollywood” video surfaced — shows Clinton has expanded her lead over Trump to 11 points among likely voters in a four-way race, up from 6 points in mid-September.

While 31% of voters say Trump’s comments about women were “inappropriate, but typical of how some men talk in private with other men,” a larger share — 41% — say the remarks were “completely unacceptable.”

Also worrisome for Republicans — 49% of voters say they’d like to see Democrats running Congress, compared with 42% who chose the GOP.

The Jerry Springer playbook

The Trump campaign brought four women who call themselves victims of Clinton sex scandals into the debate hall Sunday night but weren’t able to execute their planned stunt — a close-up confrontation between the accusers and Bill Clinton.

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“We wanted to have them shake hands with Bill, to see if Bill would shake hands with them,” said former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. But the debate commission thwarted the plan, saying it would not allow the women to be seated in the Trump family’s VIP box.

Between Trump and a hard place

House Speaker Paul Ryan told GOP House members he would not campaign for presidential nominee Trump or defend him. Trump lashed out at Ryan, tweeting that Ryan should “not waste his time on fighting” the GOP nominee.

Ryan’s move angered pro-Trump members and underscored the party’s dilemma. By sticking with Trump, Republicans running this year risk being dragged down by his plummeting poll numbers. But turning against him risks retaliation by Trump’s loyal base.

See Laura Figueroa and Tom Brune’s story for Newsday on the Ryan-Trump rift and Yancey Roy’s story from a Trump rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

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Several new Clinton ads in swing states are noticeably aimed to appeal to Republican voters. On Tuesday, Trump running mate Mike Pence ducked questions about Ryan during a campaign stop -- while Trump sent out a new tweet in which he complained: "it is hard to do well when Paul Ryan and others give zero support!” 

Jailhouse humor

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that Trump wasn’t really serious when he said at the debate that he would like to put Clinton in jail. “That was a quip,” she said.

But he’s not kidding about a special prosecutor to investigate her State Department email practices, Conway said. “Whether she goes to jail is not up to Donald Trump.”

Trump told a rally Monday “If I win, we’re gonna appoint a special prosecutor.”

Bad idea, said former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, a Clinton critic who spoke at the Republican convention. “The notion of carrying out prosecutions to pursue a political agenda, that’s something that should never happen,” he told The Washington Post.

What else is happening

  • Ken Bone, the now-famous undecided voter in the red sweater who posed a question in the debate, told The New York Times he had been leaning toward Trump, but came away impressed with Clinton’s “composure and some of her answers last night.”
  • Pence ended his brief hiatus from public appearances while Trump was answering for the grope video. He praised Trump’s debate performance and told a North Carolina rally, “I believe in forgiveness.”
  • Clinton is proposing a new tax-cut plan to give an additional $1,000 per year or more to parents of young children.
  • A megachurch pastor who takes part on Trump's evangelical council now calls the Republican candidate "lecherous and worthless."
  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Chrstie said Tuesday he finds the recorded Trump comments "completely indefensible" but still supports him.
  • Sunday night’s debate drew more than 63 million viewers, but that was a sharp drop from the 84 million-plus who watched the first debate.
  • A WikiLeaks-hacked email showed a conflict within the Clinton Foundation between longtime Bill Clinton aide Doug Band and Chelsea Clinton. Band said the former president’s daughter was “acting like a spoiled brat.”
  • Other emails show Clinton’s staff dealing warily with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s unrealized ambition to be “the loudest progressive voice” for her. That was in 2014, before she announced her candidacy, and de Blasio waited months longer to endorse her.
  • Defending his use of business losses to shield himself from nearly $1 billion in federal income taxes, Trump suggested during the debate that billionaire Warren Buffett, a Clinton supporter, did the same. Buffett rebutted that by putting out his 2015 income tax details, which showed he paid an effective federal income tax rate of about 16%.