GITUKU: Make or break debate for Trump in wake of scandalous tape


GITUKU: Make or break debate for Trump in wake of scandalous tape
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton greet one another as they take the stage for their first debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S. September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The first US presidential debate on September 26 could have dealt Republican candidate Donald Trump a fatal blow in his campaign, but it is the events subsequent to the first face-to-face meet with Democrat Hillary Clinton that could spell the end for the presidential candidate with one of the shortest political careers.

First the polls have tilted against Trump. He came into the first debate neck to neck with Clinton and had overtaken her in crucial states of Florida, Colorado and Ohio. His performance at the debate however failed him.

His incoherence and taking bait from Clinton’s set ups during the debate portrayed his perceived unpreparedness for the debate and job. The marginal lead in the crucial states has been fading into uncertainty.

Top pollsters show the popular vote gap has widened from one percentage point to as much as five.

According to www.fivethirtyeight.com, a leading election prediction website, Clinton leads at 48.8 percent as of Saturday night with Trump settling for 43.2 percent. Her electoral votes lead has been growing an average of 320 out of a total of 538 votes in the Electoral College.

The same website shows dwindling chances of a Trump win from a 46 percent on September 25 to just over 18 percent two weeks later. Clinton ranks at one of her best postings at 81 percent chance of winning the election.

Even though pollsters have a margin of error and possibilities of being wrong, Trump’s utterances after the first debate haven’t helped the situation. First, his dismissal of public outrage over his mistreatment of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado has been costly. Machado has consistently claimed that she was called “Miss Housekeeping” and “Miss Piggy” by Trump after she gained weight over 20 years ago, just after winning the Trump sponsored beauty pageant.

Clinton milked that claim in the first debate to her gain, portraying Trump as an anti-women candidate.

Secondly, with just hours to the second presidential debate, a video emerged showing Trump making sexually aggressive remarks against women back in 2005. In the previously unaired recording, Trump is seen boasting of his ability to lure women using his “star” status. Some of the words cannot be used on this website.

Perhaps appreciating the harm the tape could have or already has had on his women vote basket, Trump released a rare apology. Early Saturday he admitted saying the words but called for excusal for he isn’t “perfect”. “I said it, I was wrong and I apologise,” Trump said.

Unfortunately for Trump he still seems unable to remain on message with just under a month to the deciding vote. In the apology he roped in former president and Hillary’s husband Bill Clinton. “I have said some foolish things but there’s a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims,” said Trump.

The Republican candidate seems ready to bring this assertion to the Sunday night debate (Monday morning Kenyan time) by his conclusion that he will share more in days to come and in the debate.

The scenes and sounds at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri come Sunday will thus be worth the attention. Unfortunately for Trump, whose agenda looks clear at tainting the Clintons, the tides may sway against him if the public votes to have him queried on his latest scandalous tape.

The second debate will take a town hall format with CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and ABC News’ Martha Raddatz moderating. The moderators will choose questions based on what the public will have voted for by Sunday morning, during which time more voters may rope in questions over Trump’s tape.

And so will it be a make or break for Trump? Will it be another “win” for Clinton? And how will it affect the poll postings in the US election watershed?

These and more questions will unravel during and shortly after the second and second last debate.

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Story By Sam Gituku
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