EghtesadOnline: Donald Trump tried to change the subject on Saturday, unveiling a plan to combat opioid addiction in the U.S. while also challenging his Democratic presidential competitor to take a drug test before their next debate. Yet he couldn’t completely drop the subject of sex, or let go of the idea of a conspiracy to take the election from him.
The Republican presidential nominee rallied in front of boisterous crowds in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Bangor, Maine, and finally at a Bollywood-themed Hindu event in Edison, New Jersey.
The New England events came a day after two more women came forward with accusations of sexual harassment against the billionaire, which Trump has denied with vigor. He’s linked the stream of allegations to a theory the presidential race is being tilted by the media in favor of Hillary Clinton, according to Bloomberg.
“The election is being rigged by the corrupt media pushing completely false allegations and outright lies in an effort to elect her president,” Trump said in Portsmouth.
Alluding to one of the allegations, in which an accuser says he groped her for a period of about 15 minutes, Trump sought to refute the claim on the grounds of common sense: “Fifteen minutes? With the ladies in this place, it’d be one second and then it’d be, ‘Smack,’" Trump said before a crowd of about 5,000 people at a car dealership.
“It’s a rigged election because you have phony people coming up with phony allegations with no evidence whatsoever,” Trump said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan on Saturday pushed back against Trump’s suggestions about the U.S. electoral process. Ryan is “fully confident” the election will be carried out with integrity, his spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in a statement.
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said in a statement “participation in the system -- and particularly voting -- should be encouraged, not dismissed or undermined because a candidate is afraid he’s going to lose.”
Trump has been on the defensive, and dropping in the polls, since the Washington Post on Oct. 7 reported on a recording of the real-estate developer talking in 2005 about being able to “do anything” to women because of his fame. Figures released on Saturday show he’s also trailing Clinton in fund-raising by a wide margin.
Trump lobbied for Clinton to take a drug test before the third and final presidential debate, which is set for Oct. 19 in Las Vegas. “I don’t know what’s going on with her,” he said. “At the beginning of the last debate, she was all pumped up. Then at the end: ‘Huh.’ She could barely reach her car.”
Accompanied by Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, one of his closest advisers, Trump appeared to be more focused on policy on Saturday than at some campaign events in recent days.
He spoke in New Hampshire about a plan he said would combat the growing epidemic of prescription-drug addiction in the U.S.
Among other things, Trump said securing the U.S.-Mexico border as well as implementing U.S. postal laws would make it more difficult for drug cartels to smuggle illegal substances into the U.S.
He also said that he would instruct officials at the Food and Drug Administration to speed up the approval process for abuse-deterring drugs.
In Bangor, Trump mostly avoided discussing the sexual-harassment allegations that have piled up in the past week. “They take these lies and they put ’em on the front pages,” he said.
Trump ended the evening by speaking to several thousand in a convention hall at the Republican Hindu Coalition in Edison. He made no mention of the allegations at that function.
He spoke in between performances of Bollywood dancers, held a candle and partook in a Hindu blessing. While the handful of organizers closed their eyes, Trump smiled and made eye-contact with several in the crowd.
Trump’s speech on a teleprompter was just as well-received as the Bollywood performances. “I love Hindu and I love India,” Trump said. He then vowed to be a partner for India, particularly its Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking to portray himself as America’s Modi by vowing to lower taxes and regulation. Organizers distributed fliers to people in the crowd that stated Clinton was against Modi and organized raids against him when he was emerging as a political figure in India.
Newt Gingrich appeared in a taped-message complimenting the Coalition’s president Shalabh Kumar, a multimillionaire industrialist who introduced Trump.
Trump departed for Bedminster, New Jersey, where he will to prepare for the debate.