Weekend open thread: Des Moines Register poll and latest Trump uproar

Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton by 43 percent to 39 percent in the new Iowa poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register. It’s the first Selzer poll here since before the June 7 primary elections, and its findings are in line with other recent statewide surveys showing Trump ahead. Some 6 percent of respondents favored Libertarian Gary Johnson and 2 percent Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

This poll was in the field from October 3-6, before Friday’s explosive news that Trump was videotaped in 2005 bragging to an entertainment reporter about how he liked to assault women he found attractive (“I just start kissing them. […] I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. […] Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything”). Jason Noble’s write-up notes that Trump’s attitude toward women was already among the biggest concerns for Iowa voters about the GOP nominee.

I enclose below excerpts from that story and from others about the latest Trump uproar. A separate post is in progress about the hole Iowa Republican leaders have dug for themselves by fully embracing Trump’s candidacy. All of our state’s top GOP elected officials are standing behind their party’s nominee, even as they condemn his comments in the 2005 video.

At tonight’s Reagan dinner in Des Moines, Iowa GOP chair Jeff Kaufmann said the country has “two flawed candidates” but confirmed he will vote for Trump. Republican National Committeeman Steve Scheffler offered a prayer expressing hope that people will understand “elections are not always about perfection.” U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley didn’t mention Trump in his speech, which framed the election as a battle over the direction of the Supreme Court for the next 40 years. Senator Joni Ernst bashed Clinton’s character while not discussing Trump, whom she praised at the Republican National Convention and invited to headline her biggest event of the year. Governor Terry Branstad, whose son Eric is Trump’s campaign manager in Iowa, told the Reagan dinner crowd, “We need to elect Donald Trump and Mike Pence to make America great again!”

This is an open thread: all topics welcome. UPDATE: Radio Iowa’s O.Kay Henderson posted the audio from most of the Reagan dinner speeches. The featured guest speaker, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas,

said Trump has let the GOP down “again.”

“The words on that tape were demeaning and they were shameful,” Cotton said and, as he continued, one woman yelled “Impeach Hillary” and others grew agitated. “Donald Trump doesn’t have much of a choice at this point. Tomorrow night at that debate, he needs to throw himself on the mercy of the American people. He needs to take full responsibility for his words and his actions and he needs to beg for their forgiveness and he needs to pledge that he’s going to finally change his ways.”

If Trump will not act contrite, Cotton said Trump needs to consider stepping aside so an “elder statesman” may run in his place. That declaration was initially greeted with silence, then many in the crowd applauded.

From Jason Noble’s Des Moines Register report on the latest Iowa poll by Selzer & Co. (Results for the full sample of 800 Iowa adults have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Results for the sub-sample of 642 likely voters have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.)

Fifty-two percent of respondents say questions about [Clinton’s] trustworthiness bother them a lot, and the numbers are similar for three specific instances in which Clinton’s honesty has been challenged. […]

Fifty-three percent of respondents say they’re bothered a lot by what has been seen as Trump’s mocking of a reporter’s physical disability, and 48 percent are bothered by his attitude toward women and comments about former Miss Universe Alicia Machado. […]

Just 31 percent of poll respondents, by contrast, indicate strong concern about the suspension of Trump Foundation fundraising and spending in New York because it had failed to properly register with the state. Only 39 percent say they’re bothered a lot by Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns and recent revelations that he may have legally owed no federal income taxes for years.

Forty-five percent of all voters — and 48 percent of independents — say the questions raised about Trump’s taxes don’t bother them at all. […]

Fifty-three percent say Trump would do a better job of fixing the economy, compared with 40 percent who choose Clinton. Pluralities also peg Trump as doing a better job than Clinton on combating Islamic terrorism, fixing the immigration system and determining tax policy. […]

Only when it comes to handling relations with other countries does a majority see Clinton as the better option. Sixty percent say she’d do a better job, compared with 34 percent who say Trump would.

From David Fahrenthold’s October 7 story for the Washington Post about Trump’s videotaped conversation with Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” in 2005:

“I did try and f— her. She was married,” Trump says.

Trump continues: “And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, ‘I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.’”

“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.” […]

“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.”

The phony apology Trump released during the afternoon on October 7 downplayed the comments and shifted the blame to Bill Clinton:

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.

The apology Trump released near midnight on October 7 continued to downplay the significance of his bragging about assaulting women:

I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not. I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me, know these words don’t reflect who I am.

I said it, it was wrong, and I apologize.

I’ve travelled the country talking about change for America. But my travels have also changed me. I’ve spent time with grieving mothers who’ve lost their children, laid off workers whose jobs have gone to other countries, and people from all walks of life who just want a better future. I have gotten to know the great people of our country, and I’ve been humbled by the faith they’ve placed in me. I pledge to be a better man tomorrow, and will never, ever let you down.

Let’s be honest. We’re living in the real world. This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we are facing today. We are losing our jobs, we are less safe than we were 8 years ago and Washington is broken.

Hillary Clinton, and her kind, have run our country into the ground.

I’ve said some foolish things, but there is a big difference between words and actions. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days.

See you at the debate on Sunday.

The best analysis I’ve seen of that statement came from Leah McElrath, who noted its similarities to “psychological manipulations made by abusers after episodes of abuse.” For instance, “I’m not perfect” is a way of saying another person’s “expectations I behave like a human being are unreasonable.” “I’ve never pretended to be someone I’m not” comes across as “you fell in love with me so it’s your fault.” Trump also engaged in some “gaslighting” by saying these words do not reflect who I am,” which implies that “the reality you just experienced didn’t actually happen.”

No one who’s paid attention to how Trump has treated and talked abut women should have been surprised by anything we learned yesterday. His sense of entitlement, exploitative and arrogant behavior and lack of empathy are classic for narcissists, who “have poor interpersonal boundaries” and regard others “as existing primarily to serve their own needs.”

Speaking of which, on October 8 CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski, Chris Massie, and Nate McDermott posted excerpts from some of Trump’s sexually explicit banter on Howard Stern’s raunchy radio show. The most disgusting part was when Trump bragged about abusing his power as owner of the Miss USA pageant to peep at the contestants undressed.

“Well, what you could also say is that, as the owner of the pageant, it’s your obligation to do that,” Trump said, before discussing how he got away with going backstage when the contestants were naked.

“Well, I’ll tell you the funniest is that before a show, I’ll go backstage and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it,” Trump said. “You know, I’m inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good.”

“You know, the dresses. ‘Is everyone okay?’ You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody okay?’ And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that. But no, I’ve been very good,” he added.

Later in the episode, Stern asks Trump to assure his audience that “the chicks will be almost naked” at his pageant, saying to Trump that before he bought the contest, “they were starting to take women who were educated over women who were hot.”

“They had a person who was extremely proud that a number of the women had become doctors,” Trump explained. “And I wasn’t interested.”

Nicholas Kristof’s latest column for the New York Times tells the story of Jill Harth, who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Trump in 1997.

Harth and her longtime boyfriend were in meetings with Trump to forge a business partnership. “He was relentless,” Harth recalled in an interview, describing how on Dec. 12, 1992, he took the couple to dinner and a club — and then situated himself beside Harth and ran his hands up her skirt, to her crotch. “I didn’t know how to handle it. I would go away from him and say I have to go to the restroom. It was the escape route.” […]

That year [1993], Harth continued to meet Trump for business — and, she says, he continued to try to jump her. “He’d say, ‘Let’s go in my room, I want to lie down,’ and he’d pull me along. I’d say, ‘I don’t want to lie down,’ and it would turn into a wrestling match. … I remember yelling, ‘I didn’t come here for this.’ He’d say, ‘Just calm down.’”

Harth says that she worried about being raped by a man who weighed twice as much as she did, and at one point she vomited as a defense mechanism. But she says that he was never violent and genuinely seemed to assume sexual interest on her part; often he was playful as she was frightened: “His mind was in a totally different place than mine,” Harth recalls. “He thinks he’s God’s gift to women.”

Lucia Graves wrote about Harth’s allegations for The Guardian in July:

There was the initial leering in that first December [1992] meeting in Trump Tower, and the inappropriate questions after her relationship status. It continued the next night over dinner at the Plaza Hotel’s Oak Room, where at a dinner with beauty pageant contestants she alleges he groped her under the table.

It culminated in January 1993, when Harth and Houraney were visiting his Florida mansion, Mar-a-Lago, to finalize and then celebrate the beauty pageant deal with a party.

After business concluded, Harth and Houraney were on tour of Mar-a-Lago along with a group of young pageant contestants – Trump wanted to “see the quality of the girls he was sponsoring”, Harth recalled – when he pulled her aside into one of the children’s bedrooms.

“He pushed me up against the wall, and had his hands all over me and tried to get up my dress again,” Harth said, “and I had to physically say: ‘What are you doing? Stop it.’ It was a shocking thing to have him do this because he knew I was with George, he knew they were in the next room. And how could he be doing this when I’m there for business?”

Some desperate Republicans have called on Trump to end his campaign and allow a less controversial figure to accept the GOP nomination. Trump made clear on Saturday that will never happen: “The media and establishment want me out of the race so badly – I WILL NEVER DROP OUT OF THE RACE, WILL NEVER LET MY SUPPORTERS DOWN! #MAGA”

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan uninvited Trump from a big rally in Wisconsin on October 8–but many of the attendees were upset Trump wasn’t there. Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus condemned Trump’s 2005 comments in a written statement (“No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever”), cancelled some planned appearances on Sunday morning talk shows, and perhaps most ominously, started redirecting party resources away from supporting Trump. reported for the Wall Street Journal,

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Saturday told party officials to redirect funds away from nominee Donald Trump to down-ballot candidates, according to an official informed of the decision. In practical terms, the party will be working to mobilize voters who support GOP House and Senate candidates regardless of their position on the presidential race.

That means the RNC will push Floridians who support both Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio to vote. Before today, the RNC wouldn’t have sought to turn out Clinton voters, leaving split-ticket voters for Senate campaigns to target. […]

The immediate consequence of the RNC’s decision on allocating resources is a halt to the party’s mail program so it can be redirected toward a new universe of voters, the official said. News of the mail program stopping was first reported by Politico. Mr. Priebus and top party strategist Sean Spicer didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Here’s that Politico story by Alex Isenstadt.

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