“I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
That statement, among many other equally lewd statements, came to the public attention as an interview with Billy Bush on the set of Days of Our Lives was discovered.
Since the release of the video, Donald Trump has given a rare public statement of apology, saying, “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. Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am.” He quickly, however, dismissed his actions, claiming, “This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago.”
While Hillary Clinton’s scandals—including her use of a private email server during her tenure in the State Department, her handling of the terrorist attack on Benghazi, and her dealings with the Clinton Foundation—have been a major source of distrust among voters for the vast majority of her campaigns, Trump’s scandals have had seemingly little effect among his voter base. His supporters continue to support him, even blaming the media at his rallies on multiple occasions for not telling the truth.
It’s almost as if we hold a different standard of integrity for Clinton than we do for Trump. Although Clinton has been cleared for criminal charges on multiple occasions, her scandals continue to remain a topic of contention in debates and rallies. Voters simply already have a preconceived notion of her character perpetuated by the media’s tone of coverage. An analysis of speech patterns by multiple fact-checking websites have cited Trump with twice as many mostly false, false, or pants-on-fire statements, yet a vast majority of undecided voters still see Clinton as more untrustworthy. But lately, the scandal spotlight has switched over to Trump.
While Trump’s extensive media coverage largely contributed to his victory in the Republican primary, the newfound coverage on his scandals are not helping him. His comments, at this point, only appear to be solidifying existing fears among undecided voters.
This past month may have been the worst month in the entirety of the Trump campaign, but not because he was caught making another vulgar statement—he has made many more in the past. The significance of Trump’s comments with Billy Bush, compared to the countless offensive statements he has made in his rallies, is that it offers insight into his personality and potential criminal record. Whenever Trump makes an offensive comment in one of his rallies, his supporters would frequently explain that Trump is a completely different person in private than he is at his rallies. Now, they can’t anymore. Just as Clinton has been subject to confirmation bias for her emails, so will Trump with the many scandals that lay ahead.
But has it finally been enough?
Since the scandal, many prominent Republicans have abandoned their support of the Republican nominee for president and many more have asked him to step down as their party’s nominee. John McCain, the Republican nominee in 2008, has retracted his previous endorsement of Trump that he made over a year ago, saying, “We will write in the name of some good conservative Republican who is qualified to be President.” In total, over 36 Republican senators and governors have asked their party’s nominee to step down. House Speaker Paul Ryan, although not formally retracting his endorsement for the candidate, has reportedly stopped campaigning for his party’s nominee, telling his fellow Republicans instead to “do what’s best for you in your district.”
The image Trump has created for himself—the Washington outsider who promises to “make America great again”—has fallen apart. His debate performances have polled as “unpresidential” and “temperamental” among undecided voters, confirming fears that he does not have the experience or disposition to be president. His $900 million loss in his tax returns contribute to speculation that he has not paid federal income tax in over 20 years, confirming fears that he does not represent the working class as he claims he does. His hostile response to sexual assault allegations by multiple women over the years sheds light into his personality, confirming fears that he lacks empathy for women’s issues. In short, Donald Trump does not represent what he says he represents.
This might be the beginning of the end for Trump.