Regardless of the outcome of November’s presidential election, Trump’s impact on the party will be felt for years to come.
Two more women have come forward to accuse Donald Trump of unwanted sexual touching, including a former contestant from a reality show that featured the Republican presidential nominee.
The latest accounts come after several women reported in recent days that the Republican presidential candidate groped or kissed them without their consent.
However, at a campaign rally in North Carolina on Friday, Trump sought to discredit his accusers. He said because there were no witnesses to the interactions, the allegations were not credible.
“Right now, I am being viciously attacked with lies and smears,” Trump said at an outdoor amphitheatre.
“It’s a phoney deal. I have no idea who these women are.”
Trump also suggested the women who have come forward to accuse him were not physically attractive enough to merit his attention.
“Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you,” he said when speaking of one of the women.
Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice, said Trump made unwanted sexual advances towards her at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2007, while photographer Kristin Anderson alleged that Trump sexually assaulted her in a New York nightclub in the early 1990s.
Zervos, 41, appeared at a news conference on Friday with Gloria Allred, a well-known Los Angeles lawyer.
Zervos was a contestant on The Apprentice in 2006 and said she later contacted Trump to inquire about a job with one of his businesses.
Zervos said she had an initial meeting with Trump, where he discussed a potential job with her.
When they parted, he kissed her on the lips and asked for her phone number, she said.
She said weeks later Trump called to invite her to meet him at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where she said she was expecting to have dinner with him.
Instead, she described a series of unwanted kisses and touching by Trump, which she said she repeatedly rejected.
“He tried to kiss me again … and I said, ‘Dude, you’re tripping right now,’ attempting to make it clear I was not interested,” she said.
Zervos said Trump eventually stopped and began talking as if they were in a job interview. She said she was later offered a low-paying job at a Trump-owned golf course.
At the time, Trump had recently married his third and current wife, Melania Trump, and the couple had an infant son.
Zervos said she is a Republican and has no political agenda in coming forward. Allred said her client told her parents and others about the incident shortly after it occurred.
In a statement released by his campaign, Trump denied he was ever alone in a hotel room with Zervos and claimed to have only a vague recollection of meeting her.
He criticised the media for creating “a theatre of absurdity that threatens to tear our democratic process apart and poison the minds of the American public”.
Late on Friday, the Trump campaign released a statement in which a cousin of Servos said he was “shocked and bewildered” by her account.
In a story published online, Anderson told the Washington Post that she was sitting on a couch with friends at a New York nightclub in the early 1990s when someone’s hand reached up her skirt and touched her through her underwear.
Anderson, then in her early 20s, said she pushed the hand away, turned around and recognised Trump as the man who had groped her.
Recently divorced, Trump was then a frequent presence in the New York tabloids and also a regular presence on the Manhattan club scene.
Zervos’ and Anderson’s decisions to speak publicly about her experience follows last week’s disclosure by the Post of a 2005 video in which Trump boasted that his celebrity gave him the ability to grab women “by the p****. You can do anything”.
Trump apologised for those remarks, but also dismissed them as “locker-room banter”.
Also on Friday, Melinda McGillivray, 36, of Palm Springs, Florida, told the Associated Press news agency that Trump’s denial in last Sunday’s presidential debate that he had ever groped women prompted her to come forward after years of brushing off an incident from 2003.
“I wanted to do this so I can be a role model for my daughter,” McGillivray said.
“I wanted to be that courageous woman that she sees every day; but in that moment, she saw vulnerability, and she saw a scared little girl.”
Many elected Republican officials, worried about their re-election prospects, have distanced themselves from Trump.
Some, though, have since reversed their stance, citing fears that Clinton’s appointments as president would move the Supreme Court sharply to the left.