On the afternoon of 8 October, outside Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan, Kelly Desorto laughed when I asked her if the latest revelation of Donald Trump’s misogyny offended her. “It made me laugh,” Desorto, a 45-year-old single mother from New Jersey, replied. “I said to myself: Oh my god, he's like a real man. He says things that a man would do. You would have to be gay not to want to hit on a pretty woman. You know what I mean.”
I was speaking with Desorto just a day after the Washington Post released a recording from 2005, in which Trump speaks in vulgar, sexist language, boasting about his sexually predatory behaviour towards women. The audio was captured on a hot microphone before a taping for the television show Access Hollywood, in a private conversation between Trump and Billy Bush, who was an anchor on the programme. Some of Trump’s recorded quotes include:
“I did try and fuck her. She was married.”
“You know, 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 ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Of all the scandals that have surfaced during Trump’s candidacy for president, this one seems the most devastating. A string of Republican leaders who had previously supported Trump disavowed him after the footage was released, with some even asking him to end his bid for president. Other party elders stopped short of withdrawing their endorsements, but condemned his behaviour in strong terms.
And yet, Trump displayed the bizarre resilience he has shown throughout this election. In a videotaped apology posted on Facebook the same night, Trump looked more bored than remorseful, saying, “anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am.” This claim has been challenged by at least five women, who, as the New York Times reported on 12 October and the New York Post reported on 13 October, claim that Trump groped and kissed them without their consent.