US Presidential candidate Donald Trump appeared more prepared, more nimble and was able to avoid many of the most obvious traps that entangled him during his first debate against Hillary Clinton.

But while Mr Trump seemed to have impproved from his much-maligned first outing, it was difficult for him to land blows when he was repeatedly forced to defend his comments from 2005 in which he said his stardom meant he was able to touch or kiss women without consent.

Within minutes of the debate's beginning, it was put to him: "You describe kissing women without consent and grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you sexually assaulted woman".

"This is locker room talk," he said.

"I am not proud of it and I apologise to my family and to the American people.

"Certainly I am not proud of it but this is locker room talk."

While answering the same question, he veered from the topic and began talking about ISIS.

Pulled back on topic with whether he actually did kiss women without consent or grope women without consent"?

"No I have not." And again, he attempted to take the answer towards national security and jobs.

When Ms Clinton was called on to respond, she said there were questions over whether Mr Trump was fit to serve as president.

She said while Mr Trump claims that the shock tape did not represent who he is now, she pulled in his slurs through the campaign, saying it showed a consistency to his personality.

"We have seen him insult women. We have seen him rate women on their appearance.

"We saw him after the first debate spend nearly a week denigrating a former Miss Universe in the harshest most personal terms. So, yes, this is who Donald Trump is."

 Mr Trump again couldn't resist interrupted Ms Clinton, including at one point quipping that if he was President, Ms Clinton would be in prison.

But he did land blows. They were fewer and rarer than the ones Ms Clinton landed, but she had plenty of easy targets after the release of the 2005 audio.

Mr Trump had Ms Clinton on the ropes when he targeted her over the 33,000 emails she had deleted. When she claimed that she took classified documents seriously, it rang hollow in light of her unsecured handling of correspondence.

Mr Trump's biggest challenge was staying on topic, defending attacks, rather than simply running from difficult questions when he should be fending them off.

Ms Clinton appeared poised, polished and relaxed throughout, delivering a far more presidential performance than Mr Trump, who still gave in to obvious provocations.

The stage is set, and the muck threatens to wash it all away

The second debate between US presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton begins.

Mr Trump was widely considered to have lost the first debate, which is generally thought to be the most critical of an election. But this one could be the most important for Mr Trump, who is currently facing an enormous backlash from voters and more dangerously, his own party.

Mr Trump's allies in the Republican Party have begun abandoning their support for him after a 2005 recording was made public which included the candidate boasting of how stardom allows him to kiss and touch women without their consent.

The footage and audio has become iconic for the Trump quip that he was able to grab women "by the p---y".

Mr Trump has only moments ago wrapped up a press conference with a woman named Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey and Paula Jones who have each accused Ms Clinton's husband Bill of sexual assault.

Ms Jones settled a sexual harassment case against Mr Clinton for $850,000 without any admission of guilt in 1999.

Kathy Shelton's rapist was defended in court by Hillary Clinton when she was a lawyer.

The Clinton campaign has accused Mr Trump of "going low".

Mr Trump is now considered a long-shot for the presidency against Ms Clinton, increasing pressure on the Republican candidate. 

 

Donald Trump targets Bill Clinton over rape claim

Donald Trump has come out fighting ahead of the second TV presidential debate as the backlash over his obscene comments about women intensified.

As a slew of senior Republicans withdrew their support and Hillary Clinton's running mate said his remarks revealed a "pattern of sexual assault", Mr Trump struck a defiant tone and issued a series of tweets attacking his critics.

'Tremendous support (except for some Republican leadership"). Thank you," Trump wrote on Twitter.

"So many self-righteous hypocrites. Watch their poll numbers - and elections - go down!" Trump also tweeted, apparently referring to those Republicans who have withdrawn support for his candidacy over a 2005 video that emerged on the weekend.

And, most controversially, Mr Trump also seized on never-proved sexual allegations against Hillary Clinton's husband, Bill.
 

The Republican presidential nominee tweeted a link to an interview with Juanita Broaddrick, which is called 'Bill Clinton Accuser Juanita Broaddrick Relives Brutal Rapes'.

Broaddrick's lawsuit against Clinton accusing him of rape was dismissed in 2001 and criminal charges were never filed.

The interview has been conducted with BReitbart, a right-wing news organisation that has been a staunch supporter of the billionaire businessman.

Mr Clinton has strenuously denied the allegations

Of those criticising Mr Trump, perhaps the most vocal came from Tim Kaine, Ms Clinton's running mate, who has said the recording reveals "a pattern of sexual assault" by the Republican presidential nominee.

Mr Kaine said "it is much more than words", adding: "There's kind of a piece of the jigsaw puzzle missing in Donald Trump where he does not look at women and consider them as equal to himself."

Meanwhile, a succession of senior Republicans - in fact, more than three dozen in total - have withdrawn their support from Mr Trump.

Senator John McCain - the 2008 Republican nominee - released a lengthy statement explaining why he reached his decision.

"I have wanted to support the candidate our party nominated. He was not my choice, but as a past nominee, I thought it was important I respect the fact that Donald Trump won a majority of the delegates by the rules our party set," Mr McCain said.

"But Donald Trump's behaviour this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy."

Mike Pence, Mr Trump's running mate, has also distanced himself from the billionaire, declining to appear on his behalff at a party gathering in Wisconsin and saying in a statement: he was "offended" by the comments.

"I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them," Mr. Pence said, adding, "We pray for his family and look forward to the opportunity he has to show what is in his heart when he goes before the nation tomorrow night."

Former California Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger - and new Apprentice host - issued a statement saying that he would not vote for Mr Trump.

But, on a day of very few voices of support, the former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani did stick his head above the parapet to partially defend Mr Trump, saying "men at times talk like that".

However, Mr Giuliani also said Mr Trump was "wrong for doing it" and stressed he was "not justifying it, I believe it's wrong, I know he believes it's wrong".

Speaking during an interview on CNN, Mr Giuliani said said Mr Trump made "horrible remarks" and said they were "remarks you certainly don't want to hear from anyone, much less a presidential candidate".

"I think he made a full and complete apology for it. He probably is going to do it again tonight," he added.

However, after being pressed on the claim Mr Trump made saying he could do anything with women, including groping them, Mr Giuliani said: "First of all, I don't know that he did it to anyone. This is talk, and gosh almighty, he who hasn't sinned, throw the first stone here."

He later added: "But the fact is that men at times talk like that. Not all men, but men do.

"He was wrong for doing it. I am not justifying it. I believe it's wrong. I know he believes it's wrong. I believe this is not the man we're talking about today."

In an interview with ABC News, Mr Giuliani said: "So he said some very bad things 10 or 12 years ago.

"He's apologised for it. And it seems to me we should move on."

Mr Trump has apologised for his comments after some Republicans said they were indefensible.

"I've never said I'm a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I'm not. I've said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more-than-a-decade-old video are one of them," he said.

"Anyone who knows me knows these words don't reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologise."

He also accused former president Bill Clinton of doing "far worse".



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