ST. LOUIS, MO — The top spokesman for the Republican National Committee said that the RNC did not know that Donald Trump was going to hold a pre-debate press event with three of former President Bill Clinton’s accusers.
The spokesman, Sean Spicer, also told reporters in the spin room after the debate Sunday night at Washington University that he was “not aware” of Trump’s plan to bring the women to Sunday’s town hall debate. Additionally, he said that RNC Chair Reince Priebus had not been in any contact with the women.
Trump held the surprise press event at a nearby hotel about 90 minutes before the debate was scheduled to start, and he streamed it in on his Facebook page. The three Clinton accusers he brought were Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, and Kathleen Willey, who have alleged sexual misconduct from the former president. Trump also brought Kathy Shelton, who was the victim in a rape case in which Clinton represented the alleged rapist.
Spicer, at first, refused to weigh in on whether that was a good move, strategically, for the Trump campaign.
“The focus tonight was about the debate, and you keep trying to ask about what happened before it …” he said.
Spicer also denied that Trump made the women a focus of the debate by holding the pre-debate event and bringing them to sit in the audience.
“No he didn’t, no he didn’t, no he didn’t,” Spicer said, when a reporter said Trump had made them a focus of the debate. “What tens of millions of people tuned into was a debate tonight, that’s what they saw, and that’s what they got.”
When a reporter brought up the fact that Trump also attacked Bill Clinton himself from the debate stage, Spicer defended the approach.
“He clearly wanted to show that while his words, that while he apologized for the words that he used, that they were words,” Spicer said, referring to a recently surfaced 2005 tape of Trump boasting about brazen sexual misconduct.
“And he wanted to show the contrast that there’s a candidate out there who has advocated, talked about advocating for women, and yet, given an opportunity when there were allegations made, chose to attack those women. He wanted to make sure the contrast was drawn,” Spicer said.