Donald Trump Returns to Campaign Trail Determined to Scorch the Earth
The GOP nominee returns to the trail with his sights on the Clintons.
—WILKES-BARRE, Penn. -- Donald Trump's first day campaigning since audio catching him bragging about his ability to grope women was leaked began on a gracious note. He tweeted to his followers his gratitude for their “Great comments” on Sunday night’s second presidential debate.
By early afternoon, he jabbed at Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, who said he would no longer defend Trump, encouraging him to spend more time doing his job and not fighting the Republican nominee.
By mid-afternoon, Trump had called Bill Clinton a "predator" and labeled Hillary Clinton a vicious attacker of women. By the evening, his words grew even darker, with the GOP nominee warning his mostly white crowds in Pennsylvania of voter fraud in “other communities.”
That rally was punctuated with Trump, who has been on a war path against the Clintons since his own scandal broke, holding up a diminutive version of himself -- a toddler Mini-Trump -- that showcased the nominee not as a politician, but the grandfather he is.
It was a whirlwind day for the Republican nominee and each of the 28 days left until the election may to follow suit.
The weekend had been tumultuous, following the release of a conversation between Trump and former "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush, in which Trump said that being a celebrity allowed him to kiss women and "grab them by the p----," which many have described as sexual assault.
Swaths of Republican leadership withdrew their support and, today Ryan, while still vowing to vote for Trump, gave members of the House cover if they wanted to distance themselves from the real estate mogul. "You all need to do what’s best for you in your district,” Ryan told them, according to a source on the call, with other lawmakers.
Earlier in the day, Trump told a crowd in Ambridge, Penn., a suburb of Pittsburgh, that their problems were the fault of the Washington establishment.
"We have an absolute incredible situation taking place folks and I will never stop fighting for you against the Washington establishment that has betrayed each and everyone one of you,” Trump said. "And it's ultimately going to lead to the destruction of our country and we are doing it.”
And though he acknowledged that he’s not “proud of everything I’ve done in life," he quickly moved on to the marital indiscretions of Bill Clinton.
“Bill Clinton sexually assaulted innocent women and Hillary Clinton attacked those women viciously,” he said. He then intimated that he himself had more of his own secrets waiting to be unleashed.
"If they want to release more tapes saying inappropriate things, we’ll continue to talk about Bill and Hillary Clinton doing inappropriate things.”
Bill Clinton was never charged with a crime in the case of Juanita Broaddrick, who accused him of raping her in the late 1970s. The former president settled a sexual harassment case brought by Paula Jones in 1994 without admission of wrongdoing. And investigators said they had insufficient evidence to doubt Bill Clinton's denial of sexual assault allegations brought by White House volunteer Kathleen Willey in 1993.
Less than two hours before the debate, Trump gathered with those women and Kathy Shelton. Hillary Clinton, was a publicly appointed attorney for a man whom Shelton accused of rape when she was 12 years old. The women later appeared at the debate.
Amid the salaciousness, Trump made one of his more insidious assertions; that a loss could only result from the election being stolen.
As Trump addressed the almost completely white crowd in Ambridge, he warned, “So important that you get out and vote. So important that you watch other communities because we don't want this election stolen from us.”
Later that night in Eastern Pennsylvania, he was even more pointed, making the suggestion of voter fraud in Philadelphia.
“I love Philadelphia,” he declared. “We have to make sure the people of Philadelphia are protected that the vote counts are 100 percent and everybody wants that, but I hear these horror shows. I hear these horror shows and we have to make sure that this election is not stolen from us and is not taken away from us. And everybody knows what I’m talking about.”
Such a refrain is not new to Trump, he’s warned of voter fraud in urban areas previously, remarks that have been widely panned as dog-whistle politics, meant to convey a coded message to his audience.
But the audience in the rally appeared not to be phased, warmly applauding at the thought. These kinds of rallies feed the embattled Trump's soul: large, enthusiastic crowds calling for Clinton to be jailed, roaring at his every word. And amid the attacks on the Clinton, the jabs at Congress, and the warnings about voter fraud, another side of Donald Trump was proffered.
As he looked out into the crowd he saw a surreal sight; a toddler who looked liked him was being passed through the outstretched arms of audience members. A staffer brought the toddler up. Trump happily showed the tot off the crowd.
The toddler’s golden mane, comb over and all was resplendent under the light. “Now he is supposed to look like Donald Trump but he's actually much too good looking. You are really handsome,” Trump said.
"Are you having a good time tonight?” he asked. The child seemed to repeat “Night” back to him.
"Where is your daddy and your mommy right? Do you want to go back to them or do you want to stay with Donald Trump?” The tot leaned in towards the mic. “Trump!"
Cheers ripped through the crowd.
ABC News’ Ali Rogin contributed to this report.