One of Memphis’ — and the nation’s — ranking Republicans, Republican National Committee general counsel John Ryder, has a more salutary view than most regarding Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s prospects after the second nationally televised Clinton-Trump debate.
Before that debate, in the immediate aftermath of a damaging 11-year-old videotape of Trump’s unguarded, sexually explicit conversation with Access Hollywood principal Billy Bush, Ryder had referred to Trump as a “flawed messenger” but insisted the “message” Trump channeled of unrest and desire for change in national policy was still valid, live, and well.
Ryder had also said, during what appeared to be a weekend rush to the exits by numerous flustered Republicans, some of whom called for Trump to step down as nominee, that, for a variety of reasons, such an urge would pass. Ryder also characterized the technical obstacles to bringing about a change in the ticket as insuperable, especially since early voting had already started in many places.
And, after Sunday night’s second debate with Democrat Hillary Clinton, Ryder felt even surer that Trump’s position had stabilized, even though, as Ryder said, “that was one of the meanest debates I’ve ever seen.”
The RNC counsel thought the meanness worked both ways, though, and while he was hesitant to comment on Trump’s chances of winning the presidency, he was confident that the nominee had managed to “stop the bleeding” in Republican ranks internally and that runaway impulses regarding the GOP’s national ticket had been stilled.
Moreover, said Ryder, any likelihood of the presidential race’s adversely affecting down-ballot races involving other Republicans had been made more remote. Ryder made it clear he thought Trump had, at the very least, held his own in the debate with Clinton and laid the basis for challenging her on several points in the future.
These included remaining unanswered questions concerning deleted messages from her private server, the workings of the Clinton Foundation, the disaster of Bengazi, and other aspects of her service as Secretary of State.
And Ryder thought a Trump gambit that many had thought might be over-the-top and catastrophic for him — his convening a group of alleged victims of former President Bill Clinton’s sexual behavior at a pre-debate press conference — had effectively countered some of the potential consequences of ongoing exposures of Trump’s own past behavior.
The women were seated with members of the Trump family during Sunday night’s debate, which featured early but minimal references to the raging controversy over Trump’s alleged sexual attitudes and behavior.