As this extraordinary and unprecedented (debate eve!) day has unfolded, dozens of elected GOP leaders are rescinding their endorsements of Donald Trump and/or calling on him to withdraw from the race over yesterday's revelation of the 11-year-old audio clip we told you about last night. This firestorm has engulfed the Trump campaign, prompting denunciations from the nominee's running mate and wife, and a rare apology from Trump himself. Mike Pence is reportedly "beside himself" over the episode, telling Trump that he cannot speak on his behalf for at least 48 hours. His official calendar has been cleared. With rank-and-file Republicans and major GOP donors in a state of panic, one major Trump ally and surrogate told Fox News that there are more shoes left to drop:
Radio host Hugh Hewitt, who has been urging listeners to support Trump for weeks, joined the chorus of voices seeking Trump's ouster, citing "more and worse oppo" to come. The nominee himself is defiant, insisting that he will never, ever leave the race:
In fact, liberals in the media and the Democratic Party do not want him out of the race. They want him exactly where he is, losing. A leaked Clinton campaign memo shows that Trump was on her team's short list of rooting interests in the GOP primary, hoping to face him (or Carson or Cruz) in a general. The smallest plurality of Republican voters in modern-era primary history granted her wish. In light of Carson's comment and Hewitt's suggestion, I began digging a bit, eventually connecting with a right-leaning Trump opponent and operative who told me with a seemingly strong degree of confidence that at least two more mega bombs are waiting to fall on Trump's head before November 8th:
This individual declined to offer any more information when I sought further information, so it's probably wise to take this information of a grain of salt. Then again, CNN has already reported comments from Trump during an interview with Howard Stern in which he assented to allow the host to refer to his daughter, Ivanka, as a "piece of ass." In my judgment, that's much closer to sexualized "locker room banter" than what voters heard on the Access Hollywood tape yesterday; that involved boasting of infidelity and an explicit articulation of his attitude of absolute sexual entitlement due to his celebrity status. Nevertheless, there is a strong creepiness factor listening to a grown man agree to such a description of his own child. The road ahead for Republicans in 2016 is now fraught with growing concerns. Some of Trump's most devoted followers are furious over the party's increasing abandonment of their man. Some may withhold their support of other Republicans as revenge. Anti-Trump or Trump-skeptical Republicans may be so demoralized and disgusted that they may not turn out. Down ticket GOP candidates appeared to be weathering this cycle's wild storm rather well so far, despite Trump's rollercoaster performance in public polling -- which was already on a major down-swing before this 'October Surprise' reared its head. That calculus just got struck by political lightning. Any predictions about exactly how it'll shake out prior to solid, scientific, post-debate polling are pure conjecture. But if there truly are more bombshells coming, the party could be in real trouble. The more candidates cut Trump loose to hang on to moderate and independent (and many conservative) voters, the more hardcore Trump loyalists will fume. In short, this tenuous, mutually-distrustful coalition is in grave danger of breaking apart:
Corrupt, lying Hillary Clinton couldn't have scripted this any better if she'd tried. And in light of her longtime friendship with Trump and knowledge of his self-destructive tendencies, perhaps she did.