After a tumultuous last two days that saw several dozen elected Republicans abandon his bid for the White House, Donald Trump enters the second Presidential debate amid hints that he may undertake a scorched earth strategy against Hillary Clinton, which may include attacks on her husband, the former President.
Trump himself on Saturday evening sent out the tweets of Juanita Broaddrick, who has long claimed that she was raped by Bill Clinton in the late 1970’s, and that Hillary Clinton tried to silence her about it.
Trump has hinted in the past that he might attack both Clintons on this, Monica Lewinsky and more, but decided against it in the first debate.
“I did hold back,” Trump said in New Hampshire on Friday, arguing that the debates are for policy matters, not personal attacks.
“I didn’t like getting into the gutter,” Trump added.
But along with Trump’s tweets of Broaddrick, there were other rumblings from journalists that the Trump camp might be ready to change tactics.
“This probably forces Trump to go hammer and tongs after Bill’s scandals just as matter of sheer defense,” said Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, who has been against Trump.
For Team Clinton, what do they do if that is the strategy?
“Before the release of the video I would have suggested hitting back pretty hard, but now I don’t think she needs to do so because it is so disturbing,” said Democratic strategist Jim Manley, who argues Clinton still needs to be ready.
“She needs a clever way to deflect and let him continue to dig his own grave, because if he goes down that path he is just going to turn voters off,” Manley added.
The debate comes a day after an extraordinary scene on Saturday, with several dozen elected Republicans publicly rebuking Trump, and some calling for him to quit the race.
Instead of attacking Bill and Hillary Clinton, some believe Trump may simply run out the next month by attacking other Republicans – especially the ones who have not supported him.
Sunday night from St. Louis – it could well be a debate to be remembered.