We wanted “politically incorrect,” and we got it.
This makes how many October surprises this month? The Times story about Trump’s 1995 tax return appeared on the evening of October 1st, then a few hours ago the White House formally pointed a finger at Putin for the election-related hackings that Trump disputed Russia was to blame for at the first debate. Now WaPo drops the most nuclear hit yet on Trump’s interactions with women. It’s October 7th. What the hell is the Clinton campaign sitting on for November 1st? There’s nothing worse than this to come, right? (Rumor: Yes.)
Remember, the single most durable liability for Trump in polling, whether national or state, is his temperament. Voters dislike Clinton nearly as much as they dislike him, and often she rates even lower than he does on questions of honest and trustworthiness. But on “presidential temperament” it’s no contest: She beats him by 25 points or more, reliably. Bear that in mind when considering why, apart from how this will obviously further poison women’s views of Trump, it’s such a damaging hit. It won’t cost him many core voters — a killing spree wouldn’t cost him many core voters — but where do you go to build on 40-42 percent in the polls now? There are only so many undecided PUAs out there.
“I did try and f— her. She was married,” Trump says…
“I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married,” Trump says. “Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.”…
“I’ve gotta use some tic tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump says.“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”
“And when you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”
“Whatever you want,” says another voice, apparently Bush’s.
“Grab them by the p—y,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”
Trump, by the way, isn’t bothering to deny that that’s him on the tape. How could he? It’s him to a T. The billionaire alpha male boasting lewdly about hot chicks letting him do whatever he wants to them is the Trump persona distilled to its purest concentrated form.
“This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.”
“If anyone was offended”? A GOP donor told CNN, “This is brutal. He is toast.” I’d phrase it this way: If Clinton can’t win the election after this, she was never going to win the election, period.
The most interesting strategic angle to this is that it all but guarantees that Trump will attack Hillary over Bill Clinton’s own malfeasance towards women on Sunday night. Trump said yesterday he was inclined to avoid that subject, but he can’t now. If Hillary doesn’t call him out over this tape, the moderators obviously will. And even if Trump thinks the odds are high that going after Bill for Juanita Broaddrick and Paula Jones will backfire, his fans will insist upon it. The chief retort to the WaPo story by Trumpers on social media this afternoon, justifiably, is What about Bill? Trump is going to have to make that point himself now on national television or else he’ll forfeit one of his supposed core virtues, the fact that he’s willing to fight hard and dirty if need be in ways that milquetoast Republicans aren’t. And all of this is clear to the Clinton campaign, of course. If, as we all assume, they fed the audio to WaPo in hopes of making this an issue at the debate on Sunday, they have good reason to believe that a confrontation over Bill’s misdeeds will redound to Hillary’s advantage, probably by making her seem victimized anew by Trump for what Bill put her through. Hillary set a trap at the last debate with the Alicia Machado thing. This is almost certainly a trap too.
Exit question: Is Paul Ryan still planning to campaign with Trump tomorrow in Wisconsin? If he bails, that’s going to be the strongest signal yet to downballot Republicans that it’s time to abandon ship on Trump.
Update: Mark Hemingway wonders: Is the audio release today designed to give Hillary a reason to mention this woman at the debate? If Trump mentions Broaddrick, Hillary might be preparing to come back at him with that Guardian story.