Melania Trump blasts husband's 'unacceptable' lewd remarks

PHOTO: Reuters

WASHINGTON - Donald Trump's wife on Saturday blasted lewd remarks about groping women shortly after he married her in 2005 as "unacceptable and offensive," but urged the public to accept his apology.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in presidential debates

  • Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton head into a crucial presidential debate on Monday (Oct 10).
  • The debate comes as Mr Trump's White House campaign in chaos over his lewd boasts about groping women.
  • Trump and Clinton clashed in deeply personal terms, accusing each other of mistreating women, and signaling that the final month of the race.
  • The debate was moderated by Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz.
  • A defiant Donald Trump on Sunday dismissed as "locker room talk" a controversy over a video in which he made obscene comments about groping women.
  • He also said, if he won the White House, he would put Hillary Clinton in jail for operating a private email server while U.S. secretary of state.
  • In a contentious town-hall debate, Trump said he would appoint a special prosecutor to look into his Democratic rival’s email use because she had endangered national security while she was Secretary of State.
  • The 90-minute debate got off to a chilly start when the two candidates for the Nov. 8 election greeted each other without the traditional handshake.
  • It quickly turned into an acrimonious discussion of a 2005 video that emerged on Friday in which Trump was heard using vulgar language and talking about groping women without consent.
  • He said he was embarrassed by the video but dismissed it as "locker room talk," and added that President Bill Clinton had done worse to women.
  • Clinton said Trump's comments showed he was unfit for the White House."“He has said the video doesn’t represent who he is but I think it’s clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly who he is," Clinton said.
  • The debate's town hall-style format, with undecided voters posing half the questions and the debate’s two moderators posing the others, allowed the candidates to move freely around the stage and address the questioners directly.
  • Just a few hours before the key debate, Trump convened a meeting of women who accused Mrs Clinton's husband, former president Bill Clinton, of sexual misconduct.
  • The women were Ms Paula Jones, who has accused Mr Clinton of propositioning her and exposing himself; Ms Juanita Broaddrick, who claims he sexually assaulted her; Ms Kathy Shelton, who says Mrs Clinton defended a man who victimised her; and Ms Kathleen Willey, who claims Mr Clinton groped her.
  • None of the accusations was new and Mr Clinton was never charged in any of the cases.
  • All four were at the debate.
  • Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump face off for the first time on Monday (Sept 26) in a high stakes presidential debate that could shift the course of the neck-and-neck 2016 campaign for the White House.
  • The highly anticipated clash between the Democratic former secretary of state and Republican real estate tycoon has generated wide interest nationally and internationally six weeks before the Nov 8 election.
  • Opinion polls show the two candidates in a very tight race, with the latest Reuters/Ipsos polling showing Clinton ahead by 4 percentage points, with 41 per cent of likely voters.
  • The 90-minute debate, set to start at 9 p.m. EDT, could sway undecided and independent voters who have yet to make up their minds as well as voters from both parties who have tuned out the election until now.
  • A second Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Monday showed half of America's likely voters would rely on the debates to help them make their choice.
  • More than half, 61 per cent, were hoping for a civil debate and were not interested in the bitterness shown on the campaign trail.
  • The size of the television-viewing audience is expected to challenge the record of 80 million Americans who watched 1980's encounter between Democratic President Jimmy Carter and Republican Ronald Reagan. Some commentators forecast Super Bowl-sized viewership of about 100 million people.
  • By contrast with the single-party debates held during the Republican and Democratic state nominating contests, the audience will be asked to remain silent and not applaud or respond to the candidates' remarks. The debate will be divided into six 15-minute segments.
  • Clinton won a coin toss and chose to take the first question. She will have two minutes to answer, after which Trump will be given equal time.
  • Trump will then be given the first question at the beginning of the next segment.
  • Markets have tended to see Clinton as the candidate of the status quo, while few are sure what a Trump presidency might mean for US foreign policy, trade and the domestic economy.
  • The volatile Trump, a former reality television star, will have an opportunity to show a depth and steadiness worthy of a commander in chief, while the cautious Clinton, a former US senator and first lady, will have a chance to connect directly with voters who view her as too secretive, strategists said.
  • Trump, a political newcomer who has at times shown more affinity for put-downs than policy, could benefit from lower voter expectations. "There is no question it's a lower bar for Trump," said Dan Schnur, a former Republican strategist and now a political scientist at the University of Southern California. "He doesn't have to be brilliant, he just can't be too bombastic."
  • Trump dominated the crowded Republican debates with rapid-fire attacks on his rivals but has no experience in a one-on-one debate setting that requires more prolonged discussion of issues.
  • Clinton has participated in many one-on-one debates on the national stage: with Obama during her unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign and with US Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic nominating race earlier this year.
  • Clinton's camp has done its best to raise the bar for Trump, and in television interviews on Monday both campaigns tried to frame expectations.
  • "What we don't want to have is some sort of double standard where Donald Trump can get the most-improved award, but Hillary Clinton ... is getting judged on the fine points of policy," Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told NBC News, calling Trump "an entertainer."
  • The role of moderator Lester Holt of NBC News also came under scrutiny before the debate, with the Clinton campaign and her Democratic supporters urging him to correct Trump if he makes false claims.
  • Trump also has tried to influence Holt and moderators of the other showdowns with Clinton, saying the candidates should be the ones to correct the record.

"The words my husband used are unacceptable and offensive to me. This does not represent the man that I know," Melania Trump said in a statement.

"He has the heart and mind of a leader. I hope people will accept his apology, as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world."