Chance Seales, Media General National Correspondent – WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – With just 40 days separating Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton from Election Day, both campaigns are fighting for positive press coverage.
Early voting starts soon in many states. Busy Americans are beginning to pay close attention. So this is an absolutely critical time.
Unfortunately for Trump, his week has been consumed by two-decade-old sexism and racism charges, which his recent statements have extended for several additional news cycles.
Clinton, following her own rough patch brought on by hidden health issues, isn't squandering her valuable moment of post-debate triumph.
Clinton's GOP endorsement
Clinton banked a major Republican endorsement on Wednesday from former Navy Secretary and retired Virginia Sen. John Warner.
Warner is deeply trusted in Virginia, a crucial swing state this election cycle, which he represented in Congress for 30 years.
Speaking beside Clinton's VP nominee Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Warner shared kind words about the Democratic candidates before training his ire on Trump, assessing him as a national security risk.
"Loose lips sink ships. Got that Trump? Loose lips sink ships," warned Warner.
Team Trump is likely to dismiss Warner as an establishmentarian of yesteryear, but Virginia voters will be the final judge of that.
Trump allegations of sexism, racism
Clinton launched a firebomb into the Trump camp during Monday night's debate, highlighting allegations that as owner of the Miss Universe pageant in 1996, the Republican nominee subjected winner Alicia Machado to an array of sexist, racist and sizeist verbal assaults.
Machado, a Latina, claims Trump called her "Miss Housekeeping" and made fun of her weight gain by dubbing her "Miss Piggy."
Trump went on Fox News the next day to rebut the claims, complaining that Machado was a nightmare to work with and explained, in his own defense, that the beauty queen had gained "a massive amount of weight."
Cue Machado, round two.
The Venezuelan native who's now a U.S. citizen was back on TV, pushing viewers to vote Democrat and demanding, "We can't accept more insults for my Latin community. No more. No more insults for the women."
If Trump had let it slide, or simply apologized, it's unlikely the story would've continued into a third day.
This type of behavior clearly won't endear the billionaire to the millions of women voters who already harbor wariness about his suitability for the nation's highest office.
Trump appears determined to flip the script on his dismal week, telling thousands of supporters in Florida on Tuesday that campaign bottom lines never lie.
"We've had the biggest day we've ever had, because of the success last night of the debate. They raised almost $18 million dollars today," exclaimed Trump. "Can you believe it? $18 million dollars!"
Busy campaign trail
This late in the election cycle, every day on the campaign trail becomes a star-studded spectacle.
First Lady Michelle Obama hit up Pittsburgh and Philadelphia today for Clinton. Chelsea Clinton stumped for her mom in North Carolina.
Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) joined Clinton in New Hampshire to whip up support among sluggish millennial voters.
Trump got an assist from daughter Ivanka Trump at three Illinois fundraisers.
Former NFL coach Mike Ditka is also made an appearance for Trump in Illinois.
Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @ChanceSeales