Donald Trump may have just 90 minutes to save his beleaguered presidential campaign when he faces Hillary Clinton in a second live debate set against one of the most extraordinary weeks in US political history.
Mr Trump has hinted he will attempt to deflect attention from the disturbing revelations of a leaked sex-boasting tape from 2005 by attacking his Democratic opponent over allegations she tried to “destroy” women who had affairs with her husband in the 1990s.
By Sunday night in the US, Mr Trump had been disendorsed by 16 Republican delegates, including Senator John McCain.
With less than a month until the US goes to the polls, Mr Trump’s campaign is in disarray and the presidential debate will force him to not only face Mrs Clinton, but an angry United States public.
The debate will be shown live in Australia from noon.
Mr Trump has resisted growing calls from his own party to quit the race since The Washington Post released a damning video on Friday in which the Republican candidate made a series of crude, sexual remarks.
He has lashed out at the growing list of Republicans abandoning his candidacy, predicting they’re the ones who’ll lose. Trump has been re–tweeting messages from supporters, including one that lashes out at “GOP traitors!” and says not supporting Trump is voting for “destroying America”. Early on Monday he sent this out:
So many self-righteous hypocrites. Watch their poll numbers – and elections – go down!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2016
The 2005 Access Hollywood outtake footage has attracted widespread condemnation from all walks of American society – not least from key figures in Mr Trump’s own party, including running mate Mike Pence – for the vulgar comments about advances he’d made toward women.
The scandal intensified when CNN released tapes in which Mr Trump discussed his daughter’s physique with US shock jock Howard Stern.
In the recordings, spanning a 17-year period, Mr Trump not only made generally lewd comments about women, he described Ivanka Trump as a “piece of ass”.
Mr Trump says he will under no circumstances quit the race and his team has indicated he will go on the attack against Mrs Clinton in the debate in St. Louis.
The report says of the party’s elders, elected officials and donors are arguing publicly and privately that “Republicans must go further in isolating or even abandoning Trump”.
Senator John Thune became the first member of the Senate Republican leadership to urge Mr Trump to step down when he tweeted on Sunday.
Donald Trump should withdraw and Mike Pence should be our nominee effective immediately.
— Senator John Thune (@SenJohnThune) October 8, 2016
Mr Thune serves as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, making him the third-ranking person in the party’s leadership team.
Mr Trump released a video of his own on Saturday local time, in which he apologised for his 2005 remarks but claimed they did not “reflect who I am”.
His statement also intimated that Tuesday’s debate could get nasty, with thinly veiled references comparing his lewd remarks and the alleged lewd actions of Mrs Clinton’s husband, former president Bill Clinton.
Mrs Clinton, meanwhile, is expected to focus on Mr Trump’s fitness for office.
Mr Trump’s campaign was already in trouble before the Access Hollywood footage surfaced, with his poll numbers plunging since the first debate.
He now trails Mrs Clinton in nearly every swing state and is being outspent on the airwaves.
As Time reports the second debate is now “a do-or-die moment for his faltering White House bid”.
“This second debate, held at Washington University in St. Louis, may be the last best chance for Trump to make his case to millions of Americans,” it said.
“Early voting is underway. His campaign is in crisis. A repeat of his rocky performance in the first contest with Clinton could prompt party allies to abandon him in hopes of salvaging their Senate majority.”