October 14, 2016: First lady Michelle Obama said on Thursday that remarks about women and their bodies emerging from one of the presidential candidates were “cruel, frightening, and it hurts.”
Obama did not mention the name Donald Trump during a rousing and highly emotional campaign speech for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. But she was clearly referring to fresh allegations from four women who say Trump groped and forced kisses on them.
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“This is not normal, This is not politics as usual,” Obama said. “This is disgraceful. It is intolerable. And it doesn’t matter what party you belong to — Democrat, Republican, independent — no woman deserves to be treated this way. None of us deserves this kind of abuse. … This has got to stop right now.”
The first lady said she was not just concerned about “a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behaviour” and how that affects young girls and boys. She said the entire world looks toward the United States as a model for women’s rights and education.
“But if we have a president who routinely degrades women, who brags about sexually assaulting women, then how can we maintain our moral authority in the world?” Obama asked. “How can we continue to be a beacon of freedom and justice and human dignity?”
Trump was just as forceful in defending himself against allegations made by women in The New York Times, The Palm Beach (Florida) Post, and PeopleMagazine that he had groped them. He called their stories “totally, absolutely false.”
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“These claims are all fabricated. They’re pure fiction and outright lies,” Trump told supporters Thursday in Florida. “These events never, ever happened, and the people who said them fully understand.”
Trump said that he had “substantial evidence to dispute” the claims and that he would make it public at an “appropriate time very soon.”
Trump said Hillary and former President Bill Clinton know “very well” the stories are false. He called the U.S. media a “political special interest” allied with the Clintons in an effort to destroy his bid for the White House.
He demanded that the Times retract its story and threatened to sue the newspaper. An attorney for the Times said it stood by the story and welcomed the chance to meet Trump in court.
Hillary Clinton’s only response to the newest Trump allegations was to recommend that people watch Michelle Obama’s speech, saying the first lady made a “compelling and strong case about the stakes in the election.”
Seventy-four year-old Jessica Leeds told the Times that she sat next to Trump on an airline flight more than 30 years ago. She alleged Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt before she fled to another seat in the back of the plane.
“He was like an octopus,” Leeds said. “His hands were everywhere.” She said she saw Trump two years later at a charity event and that he started insulting her.
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Another woman, Rachel Crooks, described her 2005 encounter with Trump, telling the Times that she met him for the first time outside an elevator in his Manhattan building and that he almost immediately started kissing her on the mouth.
Mindy McGillivray talked about her meeting with Trump to The Palm Beach Post, saying he grabbed her rear end backstage after a show at his Mar-a-Lago resort, where she was assisting a photographer.
People Magazine reporter Natasha Stoynoff talked about interviewing Trump and his then-pregnant wife, Melania, at Mar-a-Lago in 2005 when he took her into a room and “pushed me against the wall and forced his tongue down my throat.”
Stoynoff said Trump told her they were going to have an affair.
McGillivray and Leeds said they both shouted at their television sets during last Sunday’s Trump-Clinton debate when they heard him deny ever forcing himself on women.
Trump was answering a question about a leaked 2005 videotape in which he bragged that he could grope women because he is a “star.” He dismissed the remarks as “locker-room banter,” but he apologized and said he hated what he had said.
The allegations against Trump may have wrecked his presidential hopes.
RealClearPolitics, a political website, said Clinton nationally now had a 6 percentage-point lead over Trump with the election less than a month away.
Many fellow Republicans have seemingly conceded the White House to Clinton and are now focused on maintaining control of Congress. (VOA)