Donald Trump on Saturday pledged postelection lawsuits against every woman who has accused him of sexual assault or other inappropriate behaviour, and he charged Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic Party with orchestrating the allegations.
“All of these liars will be sued when the election is over,” Trump told a small audience at the Eisenhower Hotel.
Just a few hours later in California, an 11th woman came forward to accuse Trump, saying he offered her $10,000 for sex after meeting her at a Lake Tahoe golf tournament 10 years ago. The Trump campaign called the allegation “false and ridiculous.”
Trump’s Gettysburg event epitomised his campaign’s twilight phase, with a speech in two parts that seemed at odds with each other.
It was at once a confident and forward-looking outline of a Trump administration that would obliterate the Washington establishment and return power to the people, as Trump pledged more than two dozen bills and executive actions in his first 100 days in office.
Yet it was also a lament full of blame, indignation and threats against the forces that Trump says are allied in an all-out effort to deny him the White House.
Intending to look presidential, Trump spoke with a subdued voice from a teleprompter to a small crowd that rarely left its feet, a contrast to two free-wheeling rallies he had in Pennsylvania on Friday.
Trump billed the speech as a policy address that would highlight his first actions as president. But almost all the promises had been made before in other speeches and news releases.
They include steep tax reductions, a border wall with Mexico, a constitutional amendment limiting terms for members of Congress and the cancellation of billions of dollars in payments for United Nations climate change programs.
He added details to a recent proposal to impose mandatory minimum criminal sentences for immigrants who return to the U.S. illegally after they have been deported and a promise to freeze most federal government hiring.
Trump had given a similar speech in June during another low point in his campaign, laying out eight promises for his first 100 days in office. Among them: appointing conservative judges, repealing and replacing President Barack Obama’s health care law and lifting restrictions on energy production.
Before ticking off the policy agenda, though, Trump plowed through the long list of his alleged enemies.
He again tried to define his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, as the choice of elites and establishment figures who have no regard for the working class.
“Hillary Clinton is not running against me,” Trump said. “She’s running against change and she’s running against all of the American people and all of the American voters.”
For her part, Clinton has increasingly been looking past the election in her stump speeches as she tries to reach out to Trump voters, many of whom are signalling they will not accept the results of the election if he loses.
“I know there are a lot of people right here in Pennsylvania who have a lot of questions,” she said at a rally in Pittsburgh. “They want to know how we’re going to move forward. They are upset by what they see happening around them. I get that, but anger is not a plan. We need to work together.”
Trump has also accused the media repeatedly this week of ignoring three recent national polls that show his campaign ahead of Clinton’s – including the Los Angeles Times poll that showed him leading by a fraction of a percentage point as of Saturday. The majority of national polls, however, along with those from key battleground states, show Trump facing a deepening deficit.
A top campaign aide conceded during a call with reporters Friday night that Clinton was leading, and accused her of running out the clock to avoid a stumble.
Trump has vacillated in recent days between bravado and tentative talk about confronting the possibility of a loss.
In three speeches Friday, he mentioned Britain’s vote in June to leave the European Union, known as the Brexit, which defied predictions from many experts.
Trump alternately described his campaign as “beyond Brexit,” “Brexit-plus,” and “Brexit times five.”
Many of his supporters are convinced he will win, agreeing with him that the news media is in cahoots with Clinton to shape coverage and manipulate polls to depress turnout among his voters.
“I hate seeing stuff about the polls,” said Jacqueline Catapano, a 35-year-old nurse who attended a boisterous rally in Newtown, Pa., on Friday. “It’s a tactic from their side to get people to think we’re already defeated.”
Yet if Trump often sounds like a guy on a barstool when he gives a speech, he may be entering the point when the euphoria of four beers gives way to wistful tales over a fifth.
A few minutes into a speech at the fairgrounds in Fletcher, N.C., on Friday, Trump broke off from a riff about American workers and promised that he, too, would work harder.
He promised four daily campaign appearances going forward, maybe just two on slow days, “right up until the actual vote on Nov. 8.”
Then Trump said something that seemed to bespeak a measure of humility. It was, after more than a year of nonstop hyperbole, almost as shocking as some of the bombast.
“And then, I don’t know what kind of shape I’m in, but I’ll be happy that at least I will have known, win, lose or draw – and I’m almost sure if the people come out, we’re going to win – but I will be happy with myself,” he said.
“Because I don’t want to say, I don’t want to think back, if only I did one more rally,” he added. “I would have won North Carolina by 500 votes instead of losing it by 200 votes.”
“I never want to ever look back.”
“What a waste of time,” he said a few minutes later, “if we don’t pull this off.”