Ryan won’t campaign for Trump; Clinton widens lead in polls

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U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks during his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas  - RTSOZN8

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HARI SREENIVASAN:  Twenty-nine days to go until the election, it’s the day after debate number two, and Donald Trump is scrambling to save his presidential bid.

But the fallout from his lewd remarks about women cost him again today.

Lisa Desjardins reports.

LISA DESJARDINS:  He is the highest-ranking Republican in the nation, and, today, House Speaker Paul Ryan drew a hard line with his party’s nominee.  He won’t defend Donald Trump, and won’t campaign for him either.

A spokeswoman for Ryan told the “NewsHour”: “The speaker is going to spend the next month focused entirely on protecting our congressional majorities.”

But Ryan is still on the record endorsing Trump.  About that, his spokeswoman said: “There is no update in his position” — all this three days after The Washington Post posted video of Trump in 2005 using lewd language and bragging about making unwanted sexual advances on women.

In last night’s debate, Trump again apologized for the remarks, but mainly argued that his words were simple bravado.

DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee:  This was locker room talk.

LISA DESJARDINS:  Today, Trump took to Twitter to lash out at the speaker.  He wrote: “Paul Ryan should spend more time on balancing the budget, jobs and illegal immigration and not waste his time on fighting the Republican nominee.”

Meanwhile, Trump today was sending a different kind of signal to Pennsylvania voters, waving the Pittsburgh Steelers’ terrible towel and talking of humility.

DONALD TRUMP:  I’m not proud of everything that I have done in life.  I mean, who among us is?  Is anybody totally proud of every single element?

LISA DESJARDINS:  Meanwhile, for Democrat Hillary Clinton, the day after the debate was occasion to kick off a two-day, three-college swing.  She was back on the attack, this afternoon at Wayne State University in Detroit.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee:  I believe that every single one of us in this room today has paid more in federal income taxes than Donald Trump has.

LISA DESJARDINS:  As Clinton embarks on her post-debate push, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted after the Trump videotape appeared showed she is widening her lead over Trump, with 46 percent in a four-way race to Trump’s 35 percent.  Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein are in the single digits.

Now, that poll was conducted before a national TV audience of around 60 million people watched the second Clinton-Trump debate last night.  And a few moments have cascaded into questions today.

DONALD TRUMP:  He and I haven’t spoken, and I disagree.

LISA DESJARDINS:  That was Trump disagreeing with a stance on Syria that moderator Martha Raddatz attributed to his running mate, Mike Pence, that the U.S. should be ready to use force against Russian ally and Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

Pence’s actual words from the V.P. debate added a qualifier:

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), Vice Presidential Nominee:  And if Russia chooses to be involved and continue, I should say, to be involved in this barbaric attack on civilians in Aleppo, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force.

LISA DESJARDINS:  On CNN this morning, Pence stressed again he was speaking about using force if Russia attacks civilians in Aleppo.  That’s still a difference with Trump, but it’s a narrower one than was portrayed in the debate.

And there was one other moment, on investigating Hillary Clinton’s e-mails:

DONALD TRUMP:  If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there has never been so many lies, so much deception.

LISA DESJARDINS:  The Clinton campaign decried those remarks as using power to target political opponents, but, this morning, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway indicated her boss’ words were sarcastic.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, Trump Campaign Manager:  That was a quip.  And I saw in NBC’s own reporting it was referred it a quip, so I will go with NBC on it.

LISA DESJARDINS:  Conway went on to say that Trump was venting the frustrations of his voters.

For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Lisa Desjardins.

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