ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Now let's turn to Pennsylvania where Donald Trump is campaigning today. NPR's Sarah McCammon is on the line with us from Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Looking at events over the last few days, it seems like Trump's campaign is in crisis mode. Did it seem like that when he spoke today near Pittsburgh?
SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: You know, not really. I mean he was back to his old routine - going after Bill and Hillary Clinton, calling Hillary Clinton a liar and corrupt, talking about issues like jobs and border security that really rev up his crowds. And you know, he did that successfully today. The crowd seemed really energetic, lots of chants of, lock her up. So Trump is returning to what he knows best and what's worked in the past.
And you know, seeing that crowd, there really wasn't a sense just from watching that that he's losing support. And you know, for the past few days, we've seen him just really surrounding himself in the support of his loyal fans, you know, retweeting messages from supporters who've been railing against the media and the establishment.
And that was all happening while scores of Republicans were pulling their support from him and House Speaker Paul Ryan saying today he won't defend or campaign with Trump. Trump did refer to that at the rally this afternoon.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
DONALD TRUMP: I accept the mantle of this responsibility for all of us, for all of us.
TRUMP: We have an absolute incredible situation taking place, folks, and I will never stop fighting for you against the Washington establishment that has betrayed each and every one of you.
SHAPIRO: So Sarah, We have Donald Trump attacking Hillary Clinton also being defiant against those in his own party who are concerned with the state of his candidacy. When you look at his words, his debate performance last night, what do you make of the direction the Trump campaign is heading right now?
MCCAMMON: Well, Ari, start with what Trump did right before the debate last night. He held that Facebook live event with several women who've made accusations against Bill Clinton in the past. Trump said the media doesn't want to talk about that stuff, but he's willing to keep talking about it and going after Hillary Clinton for her response to those allegations.
Both in the debate and on the trail today, he accused Hillary Clinton of lying - complaint that he didn't feel he got enough time to confront her during the 90 minutes they were together on stage.
And as far as bringing up Bill Clinton's history, you know, he'd been threatening to do that for a while and totally went there last night. So, Ari, in this moment of crisis, it seems like Trump is embracing the most hard-core, bombastic version of his candidacy.
SHAPIRO: That was NPR's Sarah McCammon following the Trump campaign in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.