“They’re rapists,” Donald Trump said last year when he announced his presidential candidacy. Back then, he was speaking about Mexican immigrants who had crossed the border into the United States illegally. The claim was not backed by any evidence, nor did it need to be, because its purpose was not to appeal to logic, but to emotion. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the racist’s handbook: to warn that white women are in danger from unknown numbers of dark others and that only a strong male can offer protection. “It’s coming from more than Mexico,” Trump continued, warming to his theme. “It’s coming from South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably—probably—from the Middle East.”
In the 16 months since his announcement, Trump has made dozens of hateful remarks, each more outrageous than the last, without losing the support of the Republican Party’s leaders. He has promised to build a wall to keep out immigrants; proposed a ban on Muslims entering the country; suggested that the US military engage in war crimes; claimed not to know who David Duke was, despite having written an op-ed about the former Ku Klux Klan leader; retweeted anti-Semitic images; dismissed a federal judge’s ability to do his job because of his ethnic heritage; attacked the Gold Star family of a Muslim US Army captain; insisted that the Central Park Five—black and Latino men who were exonerated of rape charges years ago—were guilty; and, until the eve of the first debate, insinuated that the country’s first black president was not really American.
But it was only when Trump—that outspoken defender of women from Mexican rapists—bragged about sexual assault that some of his party’s leaders finally seemed to find the courage to break with him. In a tape obtained by The Washington Post, Trump can be heard telling Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush that he moved on a married woman “like a bitch.” The conversation was recorded in 2005, when the two were on a bus heading to the Days of Our Lives set. Upon seeing the actress who was to host him for the day, Trump said that he needed “to use some Tic Tacs” because he might start kissing her. “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. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
It’s fair to say that Trump’s record on women has been consistently horrific. In the past, he’s called Rosie O’Donnell “a slob,” Arianna Huffington “a dog,” Megyn Kelly a “bimbo,” and Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe, “Miss Piggy.” He has been no less vulgar with his political opponents. “Look at that face,” he said of Carly Fiorina. “Would anyone vote for that?” And he has blamed Hillary Clinton for her husband’s infidelity, incited Russian hackers to find and release her e-mails, and suggested that the “Second Amendment people” could act against her.