For 48 hours his campaign had been in full meltdown mode.
Donald Trump’s response? To let Trump be Trump — and then some.
There was, of course, the tape heard ’round the world — the one with him bragging that he can “grab” women “by the p***y” simply because he’s “a star.”
There were the unprecedented defections: more than a dozen sitting Republican senators and scores of other GOP officials tripping over each other to declare they could no longer in good conscience support his candidacy.
There was the defiant “apology” video; the conservative pleas for a new nominee; the weekend spent hiding out, huddling with friends and family, in his namesake Manhattan tower.
By the time Trump sauntered on stage at Washington University Sunday night for the second debate of the 2016 presidential election — his odds of winning the White House dwindling, his remaining options unclear — pretty much everyone in America was asking the same question:
Which Donald Trump would show up in St. Louis?
Minutes later, the answer was obvious: the Trumpiest Trump ever. “I pledge to be a better man tomorrow,” Trump had said in his apology video. But during the debate, he wasn’t a better man. He was the same man, only more so.
This was the Trump that the alt-right website Breitbart had championed all cycle. The Trump that the loyalists who spent the weekend at Trump Tower encouraged him to be. The Trump that your neighbor with the “Hillary for Prison” T-shirt keeps posting about on Facebook.
This Trump went to 11.
Never before has a presidential nominee of either party behaved on a debate stage like Trump behaved Tuesday night. Much of what he said would have seemed inconceivable in past presidential forums.
Here’s a look at some of they key images of the candidates during the second presidential debate of 2016.