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ST. LOUIS — It got real within the first five minutes of Sunday’s presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis.
After both candidates used the opening question — about whether they were modeling appropriate and positive behaviors for today’s youth — to give general statements, co-moderator Anderson Cooper jumped in to press Republican nominee Donald Trump on the real question on everyone’s minds.
“We received a lot of questions online, Mr. Trump, about the tape that was released on Friday, as you might imagine,” said Cooper. “You called what you said ‘locker room banter.’ You described kissing women without their consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?”
“No, I didn’t say that at all,” responded Trump. “I don’t think you understood what was said. This was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I apologized to my family, I apologized to the American people. Certainly I’m not proud of it — but this is locker room talk.”
And then Trump attempted to change the topic. “You know, when we have a world where you have ISIS chopping off heads, where you have, … and frankly, drowning people in steel cages. Where you have wars and horrible, horrible sights all over, where you have so many bad things happening. … This is like medieval times.”
“I will knock the hell out of ISIS,” he continued. “We need to get on to much more important things, and much bigger things.”
“Just for the record, though,” pressed Cooper, “are you saying that what you said on that bus 11 years ago, that you did not actually kiss women without consent or grope women without consent?”
“I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women than I do,” said Trump. “Frankly, you hear these things — they’re said.”
“Have you ever done those things?” asked Cooper.
“No, I have not,” answered Trump.