Presidential debate: Audience urged to stop laughing when Donald Trump says he respects women

'Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger. He goes after their dignity, their self-worth, and I don’t think there is a woman anywhere who doesn’t know what that feels like'

Siobhan Fenton
Social Affairs Correspondent
Thursday 20 October 2016 14:31 BST
The audience had to be told to stop laughing when Donald Trump said he has respect for women

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Louise Thomas

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Accusations of misogyny and sexual assault have continued to hang over Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency, as his claims to respect women were laughed at by audience members during the presidential debate.

The third and final live debate was characterised by heated exchanges between the Republican candidate and Ms Clinton. Mr Trump said “totally false” sexual assault allegations against him “have been largely debunked” and insisted that Ms Clinton’s husband Bill has been accused of worse attitudes towards women and she should be held accountable for him.

Ms Clinton said: “Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger. He goes after their dignity, their self-worth, and I don’t think there is a woman anywhere who doesn’t know what that feels like.”

Mr Trump interjected: “Nobody has more respect for women that I do. Nobody.” At which point, derisory laughter from the audience was audible.

He repeated: “Nobody has more respect”, prompting debate moderator Chris Wallace to try and hush the crowd, urging: “Please, everybody.”

Mr Trump has been accused of various accounts of sexual harassment, as well as being recorded appearing to discuss sexual assault. He has strongly denied the allegations.

The comments threated to derail his campaign after senior Republicans began distancing themselves from the politician following the footage’s release.

Earlier this week, his wife Melania defended his comments saying he had been "egged on" by "boy talk". She insisted allegations against him are "lies", telling media "I believe my husband. I believe my husband... This was all organised from the opposition. And with the details.. did they ever check the background of these women? They don't have any facts."

Businessperson Jessica Leeds alleges that while sitting beside him on a flight in the 1980s, he lifted her armrest and touched her inappropriately. She told The New York Times: "He was like an octopus. His hands were everywhere".

Kristin Anderson told The Washington Post that at a nighclub someone "touched her vagina through her underwear" and she later realised it was Donald Trump.

Natasha Stoynoff said that Mr Trump groped her while she was waiting for Melania Trump for an interview: "Within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat".

Rachel Crooks alleged he kissed her without permission at Trump Tower when she was 22-years-old.

Prior to the second presidential debate, Mr Trump held a press conference with women accusing former President Bill Clinton of harassing and assaulting women.

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