Trump determinedly stays on attack after rough weekend

Story highlights

  • Trump accused Clinton of attacking Bill Clinton's accusers "more viciously than he attacked" them
  • Trump's attacks came three days after a lewd 2005 conversation surfaced

WARNING: This story contains graphic language.

(CNN) — Donald Trump emerged Monday from the toughest weekend of his presidential bid seemingly more determined than ever to go on the attack.
    The Republican nominee didn't hang on mea culpas or seek to humble himself after audio of a 2005 conversation in which he bragged about grabbing women's genitals surfaced on Friday, even as the Republican speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, said he would no longer defend Trump and urged fellow lawmakers to simply "do what's best for you and your district."
    And he certainly didn't address the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Monday showing Clinton seizing an 11-point lead in the wake of Friday's revelation.
    Instead, he intensified his attacks on his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by tying her to allegations of sexual misconduct against her husband -- going further even than he did during Sunday night's debate.
    During his evening rally, basking in the roar of the crowd of several thousand, Trump took a subtle dig at Ryan, mimicking an early tweet, lamenting "people who can't fix a budget and then they start talking about the nominee."
    And he even performed a dramatic reading of "The Snake," a poem he said he reads when he's "in a good mood."
    Trump's campaign swing on Monday came as his closest advisers publicly and privately praised his performance in the second debate in the most glowing terms, and as political observers suggested his performance had helped stem the bleeding of his campaign.
    But the surest sign that Trump's campaign is still grasping for a recovery came as he lashed out at Clinton by once again dredging up decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct against her husband, former President Bill Clinton -- and warned that more attacks would come should more tapes of him "saying inappropriate things" emerge.
    "If they want to release more tapes saying inappropriate things, we'll continue to talk about Bill and Hillary Clinton doing inappropriate things -- there are so many of them, folks," Trump said.
    He even accused Hillary Clinton of attacking the women who have accused her husband "more viciously than he attacked them," though he offered no evidence of how she attacked those women or why it was worse than her husband's alleged sexual misconduct.

    Fallout over tape

    Trump's attacks at the afternoon rally came three days after audio surfaced of Trump bragging in 2005 about being able to "grope women -- actions that would amount to sexual assault -- because of his "star" status.
    Trump apologized for those remarks -- which included saying he could "grab (women) by the pussy" -- in a video message early Saturday, but has since sought to deflect criticism by repeatedly dismissing the comments as "locker room talk" as he did on Monday.
    Trump only subtly addressed Republican uproar over his comments at his second rally Monday in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, telling the crowd that his running mate, Mike Pence, was a "totally loyal person" who had even asked for permission to put out a statement condemning his remarks on Saturday.
    Speculation had swirled over the weekend that Pence might consider leaving the GOP ticket after he bowed out of an event where he was set to represent Trump on Saturday.
    The rallies also came after Trump invited three women who accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual assault or harassment decades ago to join him before the cameras to express their support for his candidacy.
    Trump then raised those women's allegations in the debate Sunday night, while Hillary Clinton responded by saying, "when they go low, we go high."
    Clinton slammed Trump at a rally Monday for seeking to smear her rather than chastening himself for his lewd and sexually aggressive remarks.
    But Trump on Monday repeatedly sought to blame Hillary Clinton for Bill Clinton's actions.
    "As I outlined last night, Bill Clinton was the worst abuser of women ever to sit in the Oval Office. He was a predator," Trump said.
    "For decades, Hilary Clinton has been deeply familiar with her husband's predatory behavior and instead of trying to stop it she made it possible for him to take advantage of even more women. She put even more women in harms way and then she goes out and says, 'Oh I love women. I'm going to help women. I'm going to help women.' But she's a total hypocrite."
    Donald Trump: Ben Roethlisberger is a friend of mine
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      Donald Trump: Ben Roethlisberger is a friend of mine


    Donald Trump: Ben Roethlisberger is a friend of mine 00:49
    Trump also addressed the debate Monday at his first rally since the town hall showdown, arguing it exposed her lies and failures.
    "She lied so much last night," Trump said, even though he was repeatedly fact-checked for false statements over the course of the 90-minute debate.
    Trump only briefly sought to undercut the mountain of criticism he faced in the wake of the leaked audio, which cemented a view of Trump as a misogynist, by touting his belief in "equal pay for equal work" and pointing to his track record of promoting women to top positions in his company.
    The real estate magnate also noted that while he is "not proud of everything I've done in life," he is proud of his support for blue-collar workers -- who are a key part of his voting bloc -- and said he counted himself among their lot.
    "I love blue-collar workers," said Trump, who was born into a wealthy family. "And I consider myself in a certain way to be a blue collar worker."
    Trump's fiery and combative presence on Monday was only upstaged by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, one of his top advisers, who told supporters at Trump's first rally in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, that Hillary Clinton "hates you" and had somehow confessed to federal crimes during the debate on Sunday by not directly answering a question about her deleted emails.
    And taking the stage at Trump's evening rally, Giuliani even took to making light of Trump's hot mic moment.
    "Phony as -- I can't say that word," he said, suddenly stopping himself as he knocked Clinton. "I might say it back in the locker room."