Trump Blasts 'Self-Righteous Hypocrites' Abandoning His Candidacy

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Supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump demonstrate October 8 outside Trump Tower where Trump lives in Manhattan. Mike Segar/Reuters

Republican Donald Trump on Sunday struck a defiant tone in the face of calls for him to abandon the U.S. presidential race, attacking prominent Republicans and saying he has "tremendous support" despite a storm over vulgar comments he made about women.

On a day in which Trump was due to debate Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and with a month to go to the Nov. 8 election, Trump took to social media to try to squelch any speculation that he could leave the race.

"Tremendous support (except for some Republican leadership"). Thank you," Trump wrote on Twitter.

"So many self-righteous hypocrites. Watch their poll numbers—and elections—go down!" Trump tweeted, apparently referring to those Republicans who have withdrawn support for his candidacy over a 2005 video that emerged on Friday. A string of Republican senators, in reaction to the revelations in the video, withdrew their support of Trump, with some advising Trump to drop out of the race.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Trump adviser, warned in appearances on Sunday talk shows that at the debate, Trump would not rule out going on the offensive by bringing up her husband Bill Clinton's past infidelities.

The 2005 video showed Trump, then a reality TV star speaking on an open microphone about groping women and trying to seduce a married woman. The video was taped only months after Trump married his third wife, Melania.

Republicans have attacked Hillary Clinton, 68, over what they say is her role in trying to discredit women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct decades ago.

Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, interviewed on "Fox News Sunday," called the Trump remarks captured on video "disgusting," adding, "This is who this guy is."

Trump, 70, is facing the biggest crisis of his 16-month-old campaign. The pressure on him will be intense at the 9 p.m. EDT debate at Washington University in St. Louis. Sources told CNN the first questions would be about the uproar.

It is the second of three scheduled presidential debates as the long-running U.S. election contest enters its final weeks.

Trump already had an uphill battle to win the White House. Before the video surfaced, a Reuters/Ipsos poll had Clinton leading by five points on Friday. Now, the question is whether Trump's quest for the presidency has been dealt a lethal blow.