RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Early voting is underway in Ohio. And if you need a reminder of what's at stake in that hotly contested battleground state, take a look at this political schedule. Today, both President Obama and former President Bill Clinton are in Ohio campaigning on behalf of Hillary Clinton. And last night, Donald Trump held a big rally in Cincinnati.
(SOUNDBITE OF CAMPAIGN RALLY)
DONALD TRUMP: And a poll just came out - Wall Street Journal/NBC - we're leading Ohio by 1 or 2 points. But we're going to win Ohio.
MONTAGNE: NPR's Scott Horsley was at that rally and joins us now on the line.
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning.
MONTAGNE: And Scott, Donald Trump has taken a beating in the polls since the release of that videotape where he boasted about groping and kissing women. And then there now have been allegations suggesting that was more than just talk from the candidate. But Trump is hitting back, right?
HORSLEY: Well, at a campaign rally in Florida yesterday, Trump issued a categorical denial of those allegations that were published in The New York Times and elsewhere. He called them, quote, "pure fiction engineered by the Clinton machine."
He did not revisit those allegations of sexual misconduct here in Ohio. Instead, he spent much of his own rally leveling charges at Hillary Clinton. He repeatedly pointed to damaging information that's come from stolen emails, including her purported support of open borders. And Trump cast the election in really apocalyptic terms.
(SOUNDBITE OF CAMPAIGN RALLY)
TRUMP: Either we win this election or we lose our country. And that's what's happening - that's your choice. It's as simple as that. A Trump administration will secure and defend our borders.
HORSLEY: Trump once again touted his plan to build a great wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. And the nearly full crowd in the arena joined him in saying Mexico would pay for it.
MONTAGNE: And, obviously, a lot of enthusiastic supporters that come to his rallies - are any of them troubled about the allegations that have surfaced in this last week?
HORSLEY: Well, certainly, some people may have changed their minds and not shown up last night. But in talking with those who did come to the rally, I heard a range of emotions, especially from women. Some dismissed the allegations, seeing them as Trump does, just as partisan noise. Some women I spoke with said they are troubled by what they've heard, but they still prefer Trump to Clinton.
And then there are those like Krista Juhlman who I spoke with as she was shopping for a adorable deplorable T-shirt.
KRISTA JUHLMAN: You know, I'll tell you. I work in the banking industry, and I work in a man's world. And this may sound very backwards to some women, but I will say this - you make your own way in life. If what he said 10 years - 11 years ago, I'm not looking at that today. Again, I want - I think this country should be ran as a business. I think we need change, and I think that this is the only way it's going to happen.
MONTAGNE: OK. Well, some women are sticking with Donald Trump. But polls suggest he does have a serious problem with women voters. What does that mean for other Republicans?
HORSLEY: Well, that's the big question. Democrats are hoping Trump's problems will rub off on down-ballot Republicans running for House and Senate. At a dinner here in Ohio last night, President Obama scoffed at Republicans who were trying to distance themselves from Trump.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You claim the mantle of the party of family values. And this is the guy you nominate...
OBAMA: ...And stand by and endorse and campaign with until finally, at the eleventh hour, you withdraw your nomination? You don't get credit for that.
HORSLEY: And I heard very much that same message from Hillary Clinton earlier this week as she was campaigning with Senate candidates in Colorado and Nevada. The challenge for Republicans is, do they try to alienate people who are repelled by Trump or the large bloc of voters who are still loyal to him?
MONTAGNE: OK, Scott. Thanks very much.
HORSLEY: My pleasure, Renee.
MONTAGNE: That's NPR's Scott Horsley.
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