Presidential debate: Donald Trump says 'sexual assault' critics should focus on 'more important things like Isis'

'Kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women'

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Donald Trump has dismissed comments he made regarding groping, saying people should talk about “bigger [and] more important things” like Isis.

Mr Trump’s controversial remarks about touching women have dominated headlines this weekend, amid accusations that his comments referred to sexual assault. Footage emerged of him appearing to boast in 2005 about grabbing women “by the p*ssy”.

At the second presidential debate, moderator Anderson Cooper said: “We received a lot of questions about the tape released on Friday. You called what you said locker room banter — kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women.”

At which point Mr Trump responded: “I don't think you understood.

This was locker room talk. I'm not proud of it. I apologize to my family. To the American people. Certainly I'm not proud of it. But this is locker room talk. When we have a world where you have ISIS chopping off heads, where you have frankly drowning people in steel cages, wars, and horrible, horrible fights all over — so many bad things happening. 

“We haven't seen anything like this, the carnage all over the world. Can you imagine the people that are frankly doing so well against us with Isis? And they look at our country and see what's going on. Yes, I'm very embarrassed by it. I hate it. But it's locker room talk and it's one of those things. I will knock the hell out of Isis. We're going to defeat Isis. Isis happened a number of years ago in a vacuum left because of bad judgment, and I will tell you, I will take care of Isis.”

The convener then attempted to return again to the subject, to which Mr Trump responded: “Get on to much more important things and much bigger things.”

The convenor then insisted: “For the record are you saying, what you said on the bus 11 years ago, that you did not kiss women without consent or grope women without consent.

Mr Trump said: “I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women than I do.”

For a final time the convenor sought clarification on whether he was now saying he had not engaged in the behaviour which he was heard describing in the footage, asking the Republican politician: “So, you're saying you never did that?”

Mr Trump replied: “I said things that frankly, you hear these things. And I was embarrassed by it. But I have tremendous respect for women.”

The comments made by Mr Trump have been the focus of the last few days of his bid for the White House. In the footage he says: “I’ve gotta use some Tic-Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Mr Trump says in one video. “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,” he adds. “You can do anything… Grab ’em by the p****.”