A damaged but defiant Donald Trump has gone on the offensive against Hillary Clinton and her husband in a dramatic escalation of personal attacks as he sought to deflect fallout from obscene remarks he made about women.
The Republican presidential nominee tweeted a link yesterday to an interview with Juanita Broaddrick, whose lawsuit against Bill Clinton accusing him of rape was dismissed in 2001.
Criminal charges were never filed. Mr Clinton has denied the allegations.
Mr Trump's risky move, hours before a critical presidential debate, comes as he tries to save a flailing campaign facing unprecedented opposition from within his own party.
More than two dozen Republican office-holders have declared since Friday that they will not vote for Mr Trump. Many have called on him to step aside after his vulgar descriptions of sexual advances on women were revealed in a recording.
Mr Trump's attack on Mr Clinton's past was backed by former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who equated Mr Trump's latest controversy to the actions of Mrs Clinton in the 1990s when her husband struggled through the fallout of his own sexual transgressions.
Over the objections of CNN anchor Jake Tapper, Mr Giuliani insisted that Mrs Clinton "was the leader of the attack" against women who made accusations against Mr Clinton.
Mr Giuliani, as Mr Trump had the day before, declared that the Republican nominee would never quit the presidential race.
Even before the recording of his remarks were made public, the businessman lagged behind Mrs Clinton after an undisciplined first debate. He is struggling to overcome deep scepticism among women about his temperament and qualifications to be commander in chief.
Mr Trump has long hinted he would raise Mr Clinton's sexual history at debates.
In what was billed as a videotaped apology, Mr Trump over the weekend claimed: "Bill Clinton has actually abused women" and Mrs Clinton "bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated" her husband's "victims".
Outside Mr Trump's small cadre of advisers, support for the businessman was scarce among prominent Republicans following Friday's release of the 2005 videotape. Mr Trump's own running mate, Indiana governor Mike Pence, declared he could neither condone nor defend the remarks.
Several other Republicans took the extraordinary step of revoking support for their party's nominee, including Ohio Senator Rob Portman, New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte - both are running for re-election - and the party's 2008 nominee, Arizona Senator John McCain.
Many went further and called on Mr Trump to quit the race altogether.
Mr Trump called his detractors "self-righteous hypocrites" on Sunday on Twitter, saying: "Watch their poll numbers - and elections - go down."