Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally in Akron, Ohio, Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. Behind is former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
A new book by a Politico contributor reveals the Trump campaign’s reaction to the notorious Access Hollywood tape which spawned a million pink hats and a million mischaracterizations.
In American Carnage, Tim Alberta captures the moment top campaign officials learned of the tape and its contents:
Trump looked at [Reince Priebus], put the packet on the table, and slid it across. The party chairman began to read, the room now filling around him with the rest of the team. They had all seen it: an email exchange with Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold, who claimed to have an old audio recording of Trump making exceedingly lewd remarks about women and boasting of his ability to get away with sexual assault.
I’d like to stop right there — that would be one of those million mischaracterizations.
To be clear, Donald Trump did not “[boast] of his ability to get away with sexual assault.”
Trump did, rather, say that women would “let” him grab them. That’s a very important distinction.
Back to the book:
Fahrenthold had sent over the alleged quotes and was requesting comment from the campaign for a story that would run later that day.
“Wow, this isn’t good,” Priebus said, his eyes fixed on a single line. “This is really, really bad.”
The group was paralyzed with silence. Finally, Kushner piped up. “You know, I don’t think it’s all that bad.”
“Jared, what are you talking about?” Priebus said, burying his head in his hands. “This is as bad as it gets.”
Tim asserts Trumps advisers held to hopes the claims were false. Those were, however, dasedh against the rocks of recorded reality when a copy of the tape was sent over.
Kellyanne Conway recounted The Donald’s surprise:
“It was a moment of humility and vulnerability. He legitimately did not remember saying that.”
As per Carnage, the exposure scooted away some members of the GOP establishment, and fear abounded that Mike Pence would disassociate as well.
But Donald was determined.
Not for a moment would Trump consider quitting the race. He was unmoved by the rebukes of the Republican lawmakers who were piling on with excoriating statements; most of them, he scoffed, were the same people who had opposed his candidacy from its inception.
For a hot second, the chronicle notes, New York’s most famed eccentric agreed to go beyond his apology video and give an interview to ABC in the name of damage control. He abruptly about-faced.
The book claims Trump’s clinching of the presidency came during the 2nd debate, at which he showcased Bill Clinton’s accusers and relentlessly obliterated Hillary over her email scandal.
It was, without question, the ugliest and most vitriolic presidential debate in the mass-communication era. And it was exactly what Trump needed. Facing pressure unlike any White House hopeful in memory, the Republican nominee didn’t just get off the mat; he came up swinging. It made all the difference. Within 48 hours the bleeding had stopped: Republicans ceased their calls for his withdrawal, Pence dutifully returned to the stump and his campaign went on as though nothing had happened.
“Went on as though nothing had happened” seems a fair assessment of Trump’s inimitable style and history. The man knows how to rebound.
Where the election’s concerned, Democrats haven’t seemed to possess the same.
That’s why, as I sit in Los Angeles writing this, I may well be within 1000 yards of a still-worn kitty cap.
For more on American Carnage, please see AOC’s response to a Trump move chronicled in the exposé here.
What are your thoughts on the whole Access Hollywood dustup? What was your reaction then? Has your attitude changed? Please let us all know in the Comments section.
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