US presidential debate: Clinton says Trump is responsible for rise in racist bullying— as it happened

Tonight's contest could decide the presidency

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The Independent US

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Hours before a make-or-break presidential debate, Donald Trump unleashed an aggressive and politically dangerous personal attack on Hillary Clinton — by seizing on unsubstantiated rape allegations levied against her husband years ago. 

The charge against Bill Clinton, outlined in an interview that Mr Trump tweeted, marks a last-ditch effort to deflect criticism from his own sexually predatory comments.

The interview, by the pro-Trump Breitbart website, described Juanita Broderick reliving "brutal rapes." Her lawsuit against Mr Clinton was dismissed in 2001 and criminal charges were never filed. He has vehemently denied the allegations. 

Mr Trump's approach, which foreshadows a likely debate-stage attack, threatens to undermine his already weak standing with many women. It comes as he faces unprecedented opposition from within his own party just a month before Election Day. 

More than two dozen Republican office holders have declared since Friday that they will not vote for Trump. Many have called on him to step aside after his vulgar descriptions of sexual advances on women were revealed in a recording. 

"I thought about years from now when my daughter Kate is old enough to know what is in those tapes and to understand what he is talking about," New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte said of her 12-year-old daughter during a press conference Sunday. "I want her to know where I stood." 

Trump's task in Sunday's debate is enormous. 

Even before the recording was made public, the businessman lagged behind Clinton after an undisciplined first debate. Beyond concerns about his view of women, he is struggling to overcome deep skepticism about his temperament and qualifications to be commander in chief.