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Turmoil reigns inside Trump Tower

ST. LOUIS – No candidate has entered a presidential debate so cloaked in disgrace or deeper in a hole than Donald Trump – and no candidate has ever been less prepared to face the most searing trial of his public life than the shaken Republican nominee.

The walls were already closing around Trump before the Friday release of a video showing him blithely describing, in lurid and demeaning language, his efforts to seduce a married woman and how he would kiss and grope women even if they didn’t want him to. Those walls have now fallen in on him – and what aides were describing last week as an opportunity to rebound is now being cast as one final shot at survival.

“It is a complete sh-t-show,” said one GOP operative who still backs Trump on Saturday – a day of mass defections by Republican women and down-ballot Senate and House candidates. “There’s one chance, one opportunity left – and that’s to get on bended knee and project the image of contrition… That’s not going to happen.”

A senior Trump aide described the mood of the campaign on Saturday evening as “very demoralized.”

The staggering events of the 72 hours leading up to Sunday’s showdown here with Hillary Clinton – capped off by an unprecedented exodus of at least two dozen high-profile GOP supporters – would have posed an overwhelming challenge to any debate-prep team. But Trump doesn’t really have such a team, not in the conventional sense.

 

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