GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Donald Trump on Saturday pledged post-election lawsuits against every woman who has accused him of sexual assault or other inappropriate behavior, and he charged Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic Party with orchestrating the allegations.
“Every one of these liars will be sued once the election is over,” Trump said, adding, “I look so forward to doing that.”
Trump’s threat overshadowed his intended focus during a speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, that was billed as a chance for the Republican nominee to lay out his agenda for his first 100 days in office. Trump promised to institute a hiring freeze on federal workers and to label China as a currency manipulator, but he first seized on the chance to once again try to discredit his accusers.
“Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign,” he said.
Ten women have publicly accused Trump of unwanted advances or sexual assault in the weeks since a 2005 recording emerged in which the former reality TV star made sexually aggressive comments about women. Trump has denied all allegations while insisting some of the women weren’t attractive enough for him to want to pursue.
Trump stuck to his belief the election is “rigged against him,” repeated false concerns about widespread voter fraud and insisted Clinton should have been barred from running because of legal questions about her use of a private email system as secretary of state.
He also complained that a “corrupt” media is fabricating stories in order to make him “look as bad and dangerous as possible.”
“They’re trying desperately to suppress my vote and the vote of the American people,” he said.
Amid Trump’s struggles, Clinton has been displaying growing confidence and making direct appeals to voters “who may be reconsidering their support” for Trump following a string of sexual assault allegations and other troubles for the GOP nominee.
“I know you may still have questions for me,” Clinton said Friday in Cleveland. “I respect that. I want to answer them. I want to earn your vote.”
Her campaign headquarters in New York was back up and running after an envelope containing a white powdery substance arrived on Friday, triggering an evacuation of the 11th floor. Police said initial tests showed the substance wasn’t harmful, and Clinton spokesman Glen Caplin said four people who received a full medical examination reported no health issues and were released.
Clinton was also getting a campaign boost on Saturday from singer Katy Perry, who planned to push early voting during an event in Las Vegas. The pop icon has been a vocal Clinton backer and was the featured entertainment at the Democratic National Convention.
With the debates now behind them, Trump and Clinton have few natural opportunities to significantly alter the course the race, especially with early voting already underway in 34 states. Yet neither candidate wants to overlook any opportunity to secure a few more votes. Though he acknowledged the possibility he may lose, Trump said Friday he would keep up an aggressive schedule in the final days so that he could end the race with no regrets.
“I will be happy with myself,” Trump said.
More than 4.4 million votes have already been cast. Data compiled by The Associated Press showed that Clinton appeared to be displaying strength in crucial North Carolina and Florida, and may be building an early vote advantage in Arizona and Colorado.
Trump appeared to be holding ground in Ohio, Iowa and Georgia, although those states would not be sufficient for him to win the presidency if he trails Clinton in Florida or North Carolina.
The symbolism of delivering his message in Gettysburg was not lost on Trump’s aides, who said they chose the location because of its historical significance as the site of the battle that is seen as the turning point in the Civil War. It was also meant as a nod to President Abraham Lincoln’s abolition of slavery and his efforts to expand the Republican Party tent.
Trump has often pointed to Lincoln as he’s tried, with little luck, to expand his appeal with African-American voters and other minority groups. To Trump’s dismay, many of those groups have written off his efforts as condescending and cynical, and he trails Clinton by wide margins among minority voters.
Pennsylvania has been a hotbed of campaigning by both candidates in the final days of the race. Trump was spending his second consecutive day in the state, while Clinton had two events of her own in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The AP analysis of the most competitive states rates Pennsylvania as leaning Democratic in the presidential race.