The Note: Melania Plays Defense

ByABC News
October 18, 2016, 9:09 AM


--TRUMP SAYS 'I DON'T THINK SO' WHEN ASKED IF HE'S CROSSED THE LINE WITH WOMEN: The embattled Republican presidential nominee spoke out tonight on the accusations of sexual assault leveled against him. ABCs TOM LLAMAS, in an interview before a campaign event tonight in Green Bay, Wisconsin, asked Donald Trump if he had ever crossed the line with women. "I dont think so, Trump said. "I have great respect for women. I have tremendous respect for women. He added, "Its ridiculous. Your point is its lies, pure lies, and the media shouldnt be playing that up. More from ABCs PAUL SHIN, JOHN SANTUCCI and CANDACE SMITH:

--MELANIA TRUMP SAYS ATTACKS ON BILL CLINTON ARE JUSTIFIED: Taking a rare public stance on the state of campaign discourse, Melania Trump, the wife of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, spoke out Monday, calling her husbands attacks on former President Bill Clinton a fair response to what the Democrats started, note ABCs VERONICA STRACQUALURSI and ADAM KELSEY. As the New York businessman continues to assail Hillary Clintons husband on the campaign trail, Melania Trump was asked in an interview with Fox News Ainsley Earhardt if Bill Clintons past behavior was relevant. Theyre asking for it, Melania Trump said.

--TRUMP SUGGESTS PAUL RYAN DOESN'T WANT HIM TO BE PRESIDENT: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump suggested tonight that House Speaker Paul Ryan does not want a President Trump because of his own political ambitions in 2020. When asked by ABCs TOM LLAMAS before a campaign event tonight in Green Bay, Wisconsin, whether he believed Ryan wanted him to win the race to the White House, Trump responded, "Well, maybe not, because maybe he wants to run in four years or maybe he doesnt know how to win." "Maybe just doesnt know how to win. I mean, who can really know. But I know Im in his territory and they are all screaming for Trump," Trump said, referring to the fact that his campaign event was in Ryan's home state. "The head of the [state] Republican Party just left me. He shook my hand. He says, 'You are gonna win Wisconsin.' And I know one thing, we are gonna do very well here." More from ABCs PAUL SHIN, JOHN SANTUCCI and CANDACE SMITH:

--ANALYSIS -- ABCs RICK KLEIN: The damage Donald Trump is doing to the Republican Party assuming polls hold and he loses big, perhaps taking the Senate down with him cant be fully measured Nov. 8. (And that has nothing to do with claims of a rigged election.) Just three weeks out, Trump is somehow finding new battles to fight with his fellow Republicans, including those whose endorsements of him still stand. Trump on Monday put House Speaker Paul Ryan in his crosshairs, telling ABCs Tom Llamas that Ryan may not want him to even win: Maybe he wants to run in four years, or maybe he doesnt know how to win. That sentiment virtually assures a post-election for Ryan, who at best will have a diminished majority to try to lead in the next Congress, amid suspicions of his own motives and true agenda. Should Trump lose, the potential justifications for his backers to offer are multiplying daily. Sen. Marco Rubio used his first Senate debate to describe the choice between Trump and Hillary Clinton as horrifying and called on Trump to stop saying the election is rigged. That plea will go unheard, as will pleas that Trump limit his shots at fellow GOPers over the final stretch.


DISPATCH FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE -- RUBIO DISMISSES TRUMPS RIGGED ELECTION CLAIMS: Sen. Marco Rubio dismissed Donald Trump's claims about a fixed election Monday night in the Florida Senate debate moderated by ABCs JONATHAN KARL, while casting himself as a check on a Trump or Clinton White House. "This election is not being rigged," Rubio said in his first face-off against Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Florida, at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. "We have sixty-seven counties in this state, each of which conduct their own elections. I promise you there is not a sixty-seven county conspiracy to rig this election," he said. "There is no evidence behind any of this, so this should not continue to be said," Rubio added. More from ABCs BEN SIEGEL:


DEBATE PREP -- HOW CLINTON AND TRUMP ARE PREPARING FOR THE FINAL DEBATE. With the final presidential debate of the campaign taking place tomorrow, the candidates' teams have been talking about how they're approaching the big night. Hillary Clinton continues to put serious amounts of time toward her debate prep, taking days off from the campaign trail, while Donald Trump and his team are stressing that his time is better spent talking to voters, notes ABCs MEGHAN KENEALLY.



HILLARY CLINTON RAISES AT LEAST $2 MILLION FROM STAR-STUDDED BROADWAY FUNDRAISER. Hillary Clinton's campaign raised at least $2 million Monday night from a star-studded Broadway event in New York City that included performances by Julia Roberts, Sarah Jessica Parker, Neil Patrick Harris and "Hamilton" creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Last evening's host was comedian Billy Crystal, who joked with the audience that the goal of the night was to "raise more money than Donald Trump lost in 1995." The remark was a reference to Trump's tax returns -- leaked to the New York Times -- that show the Republican nominee lost nearly $1 billion that year. Although the campaign didn't reach that number Monday, the evening wasn't a wash. According to a campaign aide, tickets to the show ranged from $45 to $100,000. With 1,700 attendees, calculations show the campaign ultimately raised at least $2 million. ABCs LIZ KREUTZ has more:

TRUMP ATTACKS REPUBLICANS WHO PLAY DOWN HIS 'RIGGED' ELECTION RHETORIC. Donald Trump's unsubstantiated claims of a fraudulent election process have created a problem not only for members of his own party but also even for his own ticket. While the Republican presidential nominee railed against alleged "rigging" or a "rigged" election more than 20 times this weekend, some of his fellow Republicans starting with his running mate are trying to tamp down the rhetoric. The GOP vice presidential candidate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, seemed to take a different position on the accusations, saying he and Trump "will absolutely accept the results of the election." ABCs MEGHAN KENEALLY has more:

TRUMP AND ALLIES RAISE CONCERNS ABOUT VOTER INTIMIDATION ON ELECTION DAY. In less than 48 hours over the weekend, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump spoke or tweeted more than 20 times about his belief that the election process is rigged. While concerns about the integrity of the election have been tempered by a number of prominent members of the GOP, fears about voter intimidation, particularly after the firebombing and vandalism of a Republican Party office in North Carolina, are causing anxiety in the party, note ABCs ADAM KELSEY and VERONICA STRACQUALURSI. At a rally in Altoona, Pennsylvania, in August, Trump encouraged his supporters to go around and look and watch other polling places, arguing that the only way he would be beaten in the general election is if in certain sections of the state they cheat.

CLINTON SENDING MICHELLE OBAMA AND OTHER TOP SURROGATES TO CAMPAIGN IN ARIZONA. With just about three weeks to go before the election, the Clinton camp is stepping up its efforts in Arizona. During a press call yesterday, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook announced that the campaigns top surrogate, First Lady Michelle Obama, will campaign in the traditionally red state on Thursday. Chelsea Clinton and Bernie Sanders are also scheduled to campaign there this week, reports ABCs LIZ KREUTZ.

FBI AND STATE DEPARTMENT DENY WORKING TOGETHER IN A 'QUID PRO QUO' TO DECLASSIFY CLINTON EMAIL. The State Department and FBI are categorically denying that they negotiated any "quid pro quo" to declassify a Benghazi-related email found on Hillary Clintons private email server, as newly-released FBI documents show what was allegedly discussed. The new documents, which are detailed notes of FBI interviews during the investigation into Clinton's private server, further describe how the State Department "pressured" other agencies into declassifying emails those agencies believed should have been kept secret. ABCs MIKE LEVINE and JUSTIN FISHEL have more:


WHAT WERE READING -- UNITE WITH ANYBODY TO DO RIGHT a USA Today Op-Ed by Charles Koch and Michael Lomax. Our unlikely alliance the white, classical liberal chairman of Koch Industries and the black, modern liberal president of the United Negro College Fund (the countrys largest provider of scholarships to students of color), began with a quote hung on a wall in the offices of the Charles Koch Foundation. It was something the great abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass said 161 years ago: I would unite with anybody to do right, Douglass told the Rochester Ladies Anti-Slavery Society, and with nobody to do wrong. In the years since that visit, weve discovered there are a number of things we dont agree on. But what is rewarding is to see how often we agree. We are painfully aware that disagreement with those who hold differing points of view is now practically a blood sport. We hope the example of two seemingly dissimilar leaders coming together to find common ground on a cause they believe in can be a powerful motivator for others. READ MORE:



@notwhoweare: With #MNF well underway, we wanted to take this moment to remind Donald Trump what REAL locker room talk looks like.

@gregmcrc: #SCOTUS being underestimated in key battleground states/Senate races. Trump put his list out; where's HRC's.  #GOP

@ryanstruyk: Wow. 82 percent of voters in new CBS say this campaign is "more negative" than past elections. Only 37% said that in '12, only 30% in '08...

@mcuban: If Trump ran as an independent he would have less than 10% of votes. There is no Trump movement. Never was. Never will be.

@KCkid: Then you have seriously underestimated his appeal and strength among Americans. His message resonates, his candidacy less so.