US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, fighting to overcome setbacks and polls showing a tough path to the White House, on Saturday doubled down on his claim that the US election is rigged against him. Trump challenged accusations from several women that he made unwanted sexual advances toward them, saying the media was boosting Democrat Hillary Clinton and damaging his own White House hopes.
Trump has presented no evidence for claims he has made for months that the election could be fixed to prevent him reaching the Oval Office. Leaders on both sides of the political spectrum worry that this rhetoric, which supporters sometimes repeat in interviews, undermines the democratic process.
“It looks to me like a rigged election,” Trump told the crowd at an outdoor rally in New Hampshire Saturday. “The election is being rigged by corrupt media pushing completely false allegations and outright lies in an effort to elect her president.”
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He started the day tweeting several times that the election was being swayed by a media conspiracy.
“This election is being rigged by the media pushing false and unsubstantiated charges, and outright lies, in order to elect Crooked Hillary!” he said in one Twitter post.
Clinton, the former US secretary of state, led Trump by seven percentage points in the most recent Reuters/Ipsos national opinion poll of voters. A new analysis found she was heavily favored to reach the 270 Electoral College votes needed to secure the presidency.
His campaign said on Saturday it had raised a total of $100 million in September, mostly from small donors but also including a $2 million monthly contribution from Trump.
Trump’s speech in New Hampshire was intended to focus on a plan to end deaths caused by opioid overdoses, something he often mentions on the campaign trail. But he deviated from policy proposals to air his allegations of election-rigging and his response to new groping accusations, 24 days before the election.
Trump has been fending off the accusations since the release of a 2005 video in which he was recorded bragging about making unwanted sexual advances toward women. Trump has said the boasts were merely words and denied each of the allegations. On Saturday, he deemed “crazy” a woman, Jessica Leeds, now 74, who said he groped her on an airplane in or around 1980.
He also denied allegations of unwanted contact by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Trump’s show “The Apprentice,” who said he kissed her during a meeting about a possible job. Trump said Zervos’ first cousin called her a “huge fan of Donald Trump,” referring to a letter the campaign released to media.
Trump also told the New Hampshire crowd he and Clinton were “like athletes” gearing up for the final presidential debate on Wednesday in Las Vegas, and he implied Clinton might have been on drugs during their last match-up.
“I think we should take a drug test prior to the debate,” Trump said. “In the beginning of her last debate she was all pumped up at the beginning and at the end she was like uh, take me down.”