WASHINGTON • Democrats are watching from offstage as a Republican drama unfolds, determined not to step on their opponents' bad news.
Even as Republicans desert their presidential nominee Donald Trump and call for him to step aside in the wake of a video of him boasting about using his fame to make sexual advances on women, Mrs Hillary Clinton's campaign has remained largely silent except to lay the groundwork for their party's congressional candidates to link their opponents to Mr Trump's troubles.
A close aide said the Clinton campaign decided on Saturday that the candidate would give no interviews nor make any further statements about Mr Trump's recorded comments before their second debate, which takes place this morning, Singapore time.
Mrs Clinton will address the comments and Mr Trump's fitness for office at or near the beginning of the debate, said the aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The debate is expected to draw significant viewership.
Several Clinton allies said that she will take the high road at the debate, seeing no need to go over Mr Trump's vulgar comments in detail and attempting to show her fitness for high office by contrast.
"How can you get in front of this story? You wouldn't want to if you could," said longtime Clinton ally James Carville.
Several Clinton aides dismissed the talk that Mr Trump could be taken off the ballot.
The turn of events means that Democrats are growing increasingly optimistic about their Senate chances. Their position in the House could also improve, though there is scepticism they could retake a majority there.
"The reality of this race at this time is that this is an extinction-level event in a campaign," said one Democrat close to the Clinton campaign. "So it's not just something that will just be contained to Trump. It's an issue that will put a lot of seats in play."