GREENSBORO, N.C. — Under fire over his treatment of women, a combative Donald Trump said Friday that the Hillary Clinton campaign and the media are working together to derail his candidacy and "fix" the November presidential election.
"We can't let them change the most important election in our lifetimes," Trump told backers at an outdoor amphitheater in Greensboro, N.C.
A steady stream of news stories about women who say Trump made inappropriate sexual advances toward them are "poisoning the minds of the electorate" and are part of an effort to secure a "rigged" election, the Republican nominee said.
"This whole thing is one big fix," Trump said at one point.
At another, the New York businessman said "our media is indeed sick," and "we are going to stop it."
Trump reserved special scorn for The New York Times — which published stories about two of Trump accusers — noting that one of its investors is Mexico billionaire Carlos Slim.
In addition to escalating his long-standing attacks on the media, Trump maintained his criticisms of "Crooked" Hillary Clinton, saying she and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, have used public service to enrich themselves.
Trump also assailed some of his female accusers, questioning why they didn't come forward earlier — and even criticized their looks.
"Believe me, she would not be my first choice," Trump said about one of the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, to laughter from the crowd at the amphitheater that is part of the Greensboro Coliseum Complex.
The raucous rally also featured the ejections of several protesters.
Trump's latest troubles began a week ago with the release of a 2005 videotape in which he can be heard making lewd comments about women and saying he can force himself upon them because he is a celebrity. During a debate against Clinton on Sunday, Trump said he has never done those things to women.
Two more women accuse Trump of sexual misconduct
In the days since, at least 11 women have told a variety of news publications that Trump touched, groped, hugged, and kissed them without their consent.
In recent days, Trump has also accused special interests and global corporate interests of conspiring with Clinton and the media.
Here are 12 women who made allegations against Trump this week
The Clinton campaign said it has nothing to do with news coverage of Trump, or the many women who have come forward.
"This is a deranged conspiracy theory from an increasingly desperate campaign," said Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon.
Citing the names of two prominent Trump aides, Fallon added: "It is more clear than ever that Donald Trump has fully handed over the controls of his campaign to the likes of David Bossie and Steve Bannon to promote their movement that until now has been relegated to the right-wing corners of the Internet."
During his Friday appearance in North Carolina, a must-win state for him, Trump said he is looking forward to Wednesday's third and final debate against Clinton in Las Vegas and mocked the notion that Hillary Clinton was taking the time to prepare.
"But, really, she's just resting," Trump said.
Trump has seen his poll numbers drop amid all the claims and counter-claims. Supporters who attended the Greensboro event, however, echoed his own allegations that his rivals and the media are working together against the Trump campaign.
Backers noted that the allegations concern events that allegedly took place anywhere from 11 years to more than three decades ago, and questioned why they are surfacing less than a month before the election.
"She's trying to sabotage him and the media is totally biased," said Mary Waterson, 55, from High Point, N.C.
Olivia Jones, 19, a student and waitress from Raleigh, also questioned the motives of the accusers: "People will say anything or do anything to give somebody a bad name ... I think Hillary has done worse."
Ray Reynolds, 55, a free-lance photographer from Martinsville, Va., said lobbyists are scared to death of Trump and are doing what they can to stop him. Reynolds predicted that Trump would still prevail in the election, just as Republican challenger Ronald Reagan pulled away in the final days of his 1980 campaign against President Jimmy Carter.
"It's going to be a landslide," Reynolds said.
(© 2017 WTSP)