On Sunday, Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine stopped by CNN’s State of the Union to chat with Jake Tapper about tonight’s presidential debate, as well as the instantly infamous audio recording of Donald Trump making lewd comments to Access Hollywood host Billy Bush in 2005. (“When you’re a star, they let you do it,” he can be heard saying. “Grab them by the p*ssy. You can do anything.”)
Asked whether Hillary Clinton will bring up the recording during tonight’s debate, Kaine demurred. “I don’t exactly know what she’s gonna say about it during the debate,” the Virginia senator said. He went on, “I really think it’s for Donald Trump to try to answer it and take responsibility. His statement, trying to say, ‘look I regret these words’ — it’s not just words. It really is talking about a pattern of sexual assault.”
Tapper demurred. “A pattern of sexual assault is what you said and it certainly sounds like that’s what he’s saying, but do you know of any evidence that he actually acted in that way?”
“My understanding is that there are stories in some papers today with individuals basically saying that they were subject to exactly the treatment that he describes on the tape,” Kaine replied.
“So, this would be a question for Donald Trump to answer. If he says, ‘I may have said those things, but I never did them,’ that’s one thing. But I think the tape raises an awful lot of questions. If you take that tape as Donald accurately describing his actions, then yeah, it is a pattern of assaultive behavior, and it’s much more than words. I think the issue that it raises is not just a question for Donald Trump to address as he talks to the voters during the debate, but it’s also something that candidates who stood with Donald Trump have to address.”
Trump has apologized for his decade-old comments, but that hasn’t been able to stop the bleeding, for dozens of Republican lawmakers have withdrawn support for their party’s nominee. Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, has canceled campaign events. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan scrapped a campaign appearance with Trump, saying he was “sickened” by the comments. Even Melania, whom the Donald had married shortly before the 2005 incident, had some harsh words for her husband. Despite all of this, Trump has vowed that he will remain in the race.
Tonight’s presidential debate will be moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Martha Raddatz. It will begin at 9pm ET.