The second encounter between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton may have been one of the most sharp-tongued presidential debates in U.S. political history, but analysts are saying it is unlikely to change the fact that she has pulled ahead of him a month before the November 8 election.
Trump, a brash real estate mogul making his first run for elected office, brushed off a 2005 tape that was unearthed last week in which he made crude comments about women, boasting how he could grope them because he was famous.
He said it was just "locker-room talk," even as he allowed that he was "very embarrassed" by his remarks and hated them.
"Yes, this is who Donald Trump is," said Clinton, looking to become the country's first female president.
WATCH: Highlights from Presidential Debate Town Hall
Ryan will not defend Trump
The country's top elected Republican official, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, on Monday told his Republican colleagues in a conference call that he would no longer defend Trump's often impolitic comments that have offended many voters and instead will spend the last weeks of the campaign working to preserve the party's majorities in both houses of Congress by campaigning for other Republicans.
One person listening to his remarks said Ryan has not withdrawn support for the embattled nominee but won't campaign with him. Ryan told other Republican House members "to do what's best for you in your district.
Trump hits back
Trump rebuked Ryan, saying in a Twitter comment, that he "should spend more time on balancing the budget, jobs and illegal immigration and not waste his time on fighting (the) Republican nominee."
Meanwhile, Republican officials on the party's national committee were talking by phone late Monday about Trump's declining fortunes and the state of congressional races across the country.
Political scientist Stephen Wayne of Georgetown University in Washington told VOA that the Sunday debate likely solidified support for both candidates, not necessarily changing the campaign's track that has boosted Clinton to an average five-percentage point advantage and commanding leads in key battleground states that will decide the outcome.
However, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, conducted entirely over the weekend as American voters considered Trump's lewd remarks, showed Clinton pulling to an even bigger lead, a 46 to 35 percent edge in a four-way race with two other candidates.
Another poll, by Rasmussen Reports, that was partly conducted after the news of the 2005 tape showed Clinton ahead 45 to 38 percent, when it said the race was virtually tied just days ago.
Who won debate?
Political scientist John Sides at George Washington University said of the debate, "My sense of the narrative is that Trump did better, but it won't be enough to improve his poll numbers. Again, this is an impression of the conventional wisdom that is coming together."
Wayne said he thinks the debate might have unified Clinton's support among "Democratic voters who may have been worried about her. Trump solidified his base, but not beyond the base. I thought it revealed the true character of each candidate. It reinforced our views of both candidates and their weaknesses."
Wayne said Trump "showed no knowledge of the issues," while she was "well prepared to defend herself and support traditional Democratic issues." A CNN snap poll in the hours after the debate said Clinton won it, by a 57 to 34 percent margin.
Trump threatened to jail Clinton if he is elected for her handling of national security emails while she was the U.S. secretary of state and claimed she had "tremendous hate in her heart" for voters. The brash real estate tycoon positioned three women in front-row seats in the debate hall late Sunday who alleged that Hillary Clinton disparaged them for claiming that her husband, former President Bill Clinton, had made unwanted sexual advances toward them two decades ago.
"Okay, Donald, I know you’re into big diversion tonight,” she retorted at one point. “Anything to avoid talking about your campaign and the way it’s exploding and the way Republicans are leaving you.”
Republicans jump ship
Numerous Republican elected officials abandoned Trump's candidacy in the last few days after hearing the 2005 tape in which Trump, a one-time television reality show host, bragged that women let him make unwanted sexual advances on them because of his star status.
Some retracted their earlier endorsements of his candidacy, while others called for him to drop out of the race to become the country's 45th president, replacing President Barack Obama when he leaves office in late January.
Trump says there is "zero chance" that he will quit the campaign.