WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.
CINCINNATI — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Thursday called growing allegations that he inappropriately touched and groped women “pure fiction” and “outright lies” orchestrated by the campaign of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and the media.
Trump, touring two key states less than a month before Election Day, spent the morning in Florida primarily playing defense: He pushed back strongly against inappropriate touching allegations made by four women “vicious lies” thrown at him by the “Clinton machine.”
He also railed against “those who control the levers of power in Washington” and the “global interests” working against him.
By nighttime in Ohio, he was on offense: He gave scant mention to the controversy and instead hammered “Clinton corruption” and repeated his unprecedented promise to prosecute his political rival if elected.
“She is a corrupt person,” Trump said.
When the crowd of 15,000-plus chanted “Lock her up!” a confident Trump agreed: “She should be locked up.”
Despite polls showing Clinton pulling ahead, Trump defiantly predicted those surveys would be proved wrong.
“On Nov. 8, the arrogance of Washington, D.C. will come face to face with the American voter!” Trump told his exuberant supporters.
The tough talk came after perhaps the seven roughest days of the campaign for Trump. A 2005 video surfaced last week in which Trump boasted of grabbing women’s genitals and being able to “do anything” to them because he was a TV star. That prompted dozens of elected Republicans to retract their support.
Then late Wednesday, four women accused the real estate mogul of groping and forcing himself on them in separate accounts published late Wednesday by The New York Times, People Magazine and The Palm Beach Post.
Trump sought to fight back Thursday morning in West Palm Beach. For more than an hour Trump railed against the allegations, saying he had “substantial evidence to dispute these lies . . .” He cast the stories as “a conspiracy against you, the American people.”
“These claims are all fabricated. They’re pure fiction and they’re outright lies,” Trump told supporters at the South Florida Fairgrounds.
But not only did Trump denounce the claims, he also denigrated one of the accusers’ looks.
“Take a look … You tell me what you think,” Trump said of Natasha Stoynoff, a writer for People. “I don’t think so. I don’t think so.”
At Cincinnati’s U.S. Bank Arena, the candidate told supporters the stories were generated to offset news about controversial Clinton emails released by the WikiLeaks organization.
Trump said he wanted to “focus on the issues,” which he went on to define as lost American jobs, immigration, the U.S. Supreme Court, the Second Amendment and Clinton – whom he criticized in increasingly harsh terms.
“And you know, when she’s over in China, if she goes down to Tiananmen Square, they’ll just leave her there,” Trump said, referring to the site where the Chinese government massacred protesters in 1989.
“They’re tough people. They’re just going to leave her there,” he said. “They’re not going to help her up. They’ll say: Let her come up when she’s ready.”
With Laura Figueroa