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Supporters Hope Trump Bounces Back In Second Debate


Late this afternoon, The Washington Post released a 2005 recording of Donald Trump making very lewd comments about women to Access Hollywood host Billy Bush. In a statement, the Republican nominee called the conversation, quote, "locker room banter" and said, quote, "I apologize if anyone was offended." Even before this latest bombshell, many Trump supporters have expressed anxiety about how their candidate will do Sunday night when he meets Hillary Clinton for a town-hall-style debate. NPR's Scott Detrow reports.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: As Donald Trump traveled through Colorado, Arizona and Nevada this week, he met crowd after adoring crowd.


DONALD TRUMP: You're going to look back at this rally for the rest of your life. You're going to remember this day. We're going to make history.

DETROW: Trump may be trailing in most polls right now, but in these settings everybody loves him. The rooms are packed with thousands of cheering supporters, people like Patricia Ayers in Prescott Valley, Ariz.

PATRICIA AYERS: I admire him greatly. I admire his success. I admire his honesty. I admire his very straightforward non-political talk.

DETROW: But even here, even in this setting, many of Trump's most fervent supporters were pretty frustrated with Trump's first debate performance. Linda Knap wants to see a different Trump on Sunday.

LINDA KNAP: For him not to be so defensive of his own stuff but to bring out her stuff that doesn't get addressed.

DETROW: That's something that Trump didn't do too much of last time. The Clinton Foundation, Benghazi, so many things Trump talks about day in and day out at rallies, he never confronted Clinton with in their first debate. Suzanne Mahan saw Trump speak in Colorado Monday. She didn't hesitate when asked what she wants to see change this weekend.

SUZANNE MAHAN: He definitely needs to prepare more. He can't wing it.

DETROW: But Trump just doesn't seem too interested in preparing. Last night, he held a town hall meeting in New Hampshire. His campaign had told reporters that this was a practice run, but Trump went out of his way last night to say that wasn't true.


TRUMP: They were saying this is practice for Sunday. This isn't practice. This has nothing to do with Sunday. We're just here because we just wanted to be here.

DETROW: At that town hall, Trump stayed inside the campaign rally bubble, a bubble where everything is going really well and every voter loves him.


TRUMP: These just came out, just literally came out - Rasmussen. That's national poll - Trump - 43, Clinton - 41.


DETROW: He began it by rattling off several polls, outliers. Nearly every national survey right now shows Clinton expanding her lead over Trump. And when it came time for the moderator to read questions from the screened audience, most of them were pretty sympathetic.


TRUMP: Let's have a fun question.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What is one of your earliest memories as a child, and why do you think it stands out? And then she says go Donald.

DETROW: Person after person at Trump rallies this week had different advice for the Republican nominee. Don't interrupt Clinton so much, calm down, be more focused but attack her record more. Vic Barlish was in the Pueblo, Colo., crowd.

VIC BARLISH: I hope she doesn't bait him. Well, I know she's going to bait him. I hope he doesn't take the bait.

DETROW: Most people at the rallies are confident Trump will win in November. In Henderson, Nev., Kevin Wilson is a bit more hesitant. He thinks the race could still go either way.

KEVIN WILSON: The election depends on the next two debates. I don't think Hillary has it locked up by any means. I think it's up to Trump, really.

DETROW: If that's the case, perhaps it comes down to whether Trump has been putting in more prep work for this second showdown than he's publicly letting on. Scott Detrow, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.

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