WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won’t address Republican Donald Trump’s crude video until their debate Sunday night, seeking to preserve the potency of the moment before a large audience, according to a campaign official who asked not to be named.
Key Clinton allies have been told of that plan, and while surrogates aren’t being asked to stay quiet, they are being told there is no need to speak out on the issue ahead of the debate, the official said.
For now, the campaign’s battleground-state strategy remains unchanged and the goal is still collecting 270 Electoral College votes, rather than pushing into uncharted territory or shifting priorities to down-ballot races, the official said.
Clinton’s campaign is proceeding with the view she is facing Trump and not any last-minute substitute on Nov. 8, the official said.
Trump has apologized for talking about groping women in the “p—-y,” trying and failing to “f—k” a married woman, and being able to “do anything” to women because of his fame in a 2005 video that surfaced Friday.
He says he won’t drop out of the race, defying calls from a growing number of elected Republicans who say he should step aside for the good of the party. With early voting already under way, Republicans’ options for changing the ticket at this point appear limited.
Trump has also suggested he will have more to say about former President Bill Clinton’s relationships with women, and Hillary Clinton’s treatment of those women.
The Clinton team isn’t convinced Trump will go there in the debate, if only because he has telegraphed the punch time and again only to stop short, and because so many Republicans have advised him it could backfire, said a person familiar with the deliberations in the Democrat’s campaign.
Clinton’s campaign had prepared for such attacks beginning months ago and she won’t be rattled if Trump does try to compare past Bill Clinton sex scandals with his own recently divulged statements, the person said. Hillary Clinton would continue to present herself as a defender of Alicia Machado, a pageant winner Trump attacked after Clinton brought her up in their first debate, and other victimized women, the person said.