Greensboro, N.C. — After a week of condemnation and defections by Republican supporters, presidential candidate Donald Trump lashed out at Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and the national media on Friday, blaming them for reports that he groped and made lewd comments about women.
And in language not seen before on the presidential trail, Trump told supporters some of his accusers would not have been attractive enough to merit his attention.
Speaking at a half-full White Oak Amphitheatre in Greensboro, Trump urged supporters to fight back against what he called "one big, ugly lie" perpetrated to defeat his bid for the White House.
"The corrupt media is trying everything in their power to stop our movement," he said. "This is our last chance to save our country and reclaim it for we the people."
In the week since a videotape from 2005 surfaced in which Trump bragged about kissing and touching women, several women have come forward to state that they were on the receiving end of unwanted sexual advances by Trump.
Trump insisted that he doesn't know who four of his accusers are, but criticized the appearances of two of them. One, reporter Natasha Stoynoff, covered the Trump family for People magazine for months - before, she says, Trump attempted to force himself on her in an empty room while his pregnant wife Melania was upstairs changing clothes.
"When you looked at that horrible woman last night, you said, 'I don't think so,'" Trump told the crowd to applause. "I don't think that happened with her and many people, but it's certainly not going to happen with me."
"She’s a liar. She is a liar," he assured the crowd. "Check out her Facebook page. You’ll understand."
Trump also mocked businesswoman Jessica Leeds, who said he groped her on an airplane.
"'He went after me on the plane,'" he said, imitating Leeds. "Yeah. I’m gonna go after her. Believe me, she would not be my first choice. That I can tell you."
The Republican nominee also denied accusations that he had tried to physically intimidate Clinton at their debate last Sunday.
"I’m standing at my podium, and she walks in front of me," he said. "When she walked in front of me, believe me, I wasn’t impressed."
"I'm being viciously attacked by lies and smears," he said. "These stories are total fiction. They're 100 percent made up. They never happened."
Many is attendance agreed with Trump's assessment of the misconduct allegations
"I know that the majority of things that’s being said is not true," said John Witt of Goldsboro. "It’s just the media and other things they put out there."
"Really, what man hasn’t kind of said those things in their life unless they’re like God?" Amarus Titus of Hillsdale said with a laugh.
"I think that’s just a side issue. To me, I look at the overall picture, and he’s a much better candidate," said Carolyn Calvarese of Jamestown. "They’re just sidetracking. They don’t want to get on the issues."
Trump, who also was to appear in Charlotte on Friday night, charged that the media is colluding with the Clinton campaign to stoke the fire and keep the story in the headlines, overwhelming "horrible, horrible" details about Clinton in emails obtained by WikiLeaks.
The emails, he said, show how Clinton conspired with the State and Justice departments during the investigation of emails that had been deleted from a private server she used during her time as secretary of state and that she couldn't remember key events or details about her use of the server 21 different times.
As Trump blasted Clinton, the crowd chanted, "Lock her up. Lock her up."
"For what she's done, they should lock her up. It's disgraceful," he said, reiterating his plan to seek another investigation of her missing emails if he's elected. "We also have to investigate the (FBI) investigation itself."
But he fears that the sexual misconduct stories will derail his candidacy, and he said voters need to stand up and make a difference on Election Day.
"We can't let them change the most important election of our lifetime," he said. "Our media is indeed sick. And it’s making our country sick. And we’re going to stop it."
"The process is rigged," he continued. "The whole thing is one big fix."
Advisers had urged Trump to avoid speaking about the controversy, but he said he had to hit back against the allegations before going through his usual campaign talking points: a border wall with Mexico, repealing the Affordable Care Act, renegotiating trade deals, protecting the Second Amendment and cutting taxes.
"I'm taking these slings and arrows for you so we can have our borders, so we can get back our jobs, so we can be a safe nation again," he said. "On Nov. 8, the arrogance of Washington, D.C., will come face to face with the righteous verdict of the American voter. It's time."