Leading Republicans call for Trump to quit presidential race
Vice presidential candidate condemns lewd video
Republican candidate for Vice President Mike Pence strongly condemned Mr Trump’s remarks © Getty by: Demetri Sevastopulo and Courtney Weaver in Washington
Donald Trump refused to abandon his presidential campaign amid growing demands from Republican lawmakers to quit the race following the release of a video showing him bragging in crude terms about aggressively groping women.
“The media and establishment want me out of the race so badly — I WILL NEVER DROP OUT OF THE RACE, WILL NEVER LET MY SUPPORTERS DOWN!” Mr Trump tweeted on Saturday after 24 hours of intense criticism.
Mr Trump has come under pressure after the Washington Post on Friday released a video from 2005 in which he used vulgar language to describe trying to have sex with married women, grabbing their genitals and saying that attractive women wanted to kiss him because he was a star.
Coming one month before the election, and two days before the second presidential debate, the scandal over the video threatens to derail the campaign of a man who, until recently, seemed immune to backlash — despite a string of comments that critics called racist, sexist, xenophobic and insulting to the handicapped and war heroes. Hillary Clinton has increasingly tried to make the presidential race a referendum on the way Mr Trump has treated women over his life.
While Democrats have pounced on the revelations as more evidence that Mr Trump is unfit to serve as president, Republicans have also lambasted their nominee over the past 48 hours. His own running mate, Mike Pence, issued an unprecedented statement that “as a husband and a father, I was offended by the words and actions”.
John Kasich, the Ohio governor, said he would “not vote for a nominee who has behaved in a manner that reflects so poorly on our country”. He was joined by Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, and John McCain, the 2008 nominee. Mr McCain said he was rescinding his endorsement of Mr Trump and would instead write the name of a “good conservative” on the ballot on November 8.
“There are no excuses for Donald Trump’s offensive and demeaning comments in the just released video,” said Mr McCain. “No woman should ever be victimised by this kind of inappropriate behaviour. He alone bears the burden of his conduct and alone should suffer the consequences.”
Mr Trump faced more problems on Saturday after CNN released a series of interviews with Howard Stern, in which Mr Trump gave the shock jock permission to call his daughter Ivanka “a piece of ass”. When asked if his daughter had received breast implants, Mr Trump replied: “She has actually always been very voluptuous”.
Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the House, uninvited Mr Trump from an event in Wisconsin, saying he was “sickened” by the video, but did not call on him to quit. “I hope Mr Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests.”
But John Thune, the third ranking Republican senator, called on Mr Trump to step down immediately to clear the way for Mr Pence. “Donald Trump should withdraw and Mike Pence should be our nominee effective immediately,” Mr Thune tweeted.
Mr Trump faced a strong backlash from Republicans in Utah, a conservative state that is crucial to his chances of winning the White House. Mia Love, the first African American Republican congresswoman, called on him to resign “for the good of the party, and the country”. Mike Lee, a senator who was considered a possible Supreme Court pick if Mr Trump won, said: “I respectfully ask you, with all due respect to step aside. Step down. Allow someone else to carry the banner of these principles.”
Republicans were scrambling to respond to the crisis, which threatened to undermine efforts to retain their majorities in the House and Senate. Ahead of the first presidential debate, Mr Trump had moderated his tone, which helped him rise in the polls, and raised Republican hopes about maintaining their fragile Senate majority. But he has fallen in most polls since the debate, in which Mrs Clinton got under his skin, including by pointing out that he had once called a Latina beauty queen “Miss Piggy”. That sparked a week-long tirade from Mr Trump that reinforced claims that he lacks the temperament to be president, and undermined his support among women.
Mr Trump has remained defiant since the release of the video. While he issued an apology on Friday, he said his words were less offensive than the sexual exploits of Bill Clinton. “There is a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women, and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed, and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days,” Mr Trump said.
The battle for the US presidency has shifted into a new gear as the candidates enter the final leg of the race in the run-up to election day on November 8
While Mr Trump has faced criticism during his campaign for remarks over Muslims and Mexicans, and more general derogatory remarks towards women, the 2005 video appears to have struck a different chord because of its explicit lewdness and endorsement of sexual assault, as well as the impact it could have on Mr Trump’s support among suburban educated women — a group which could determine whether or not he wins the White House.
With most voters having decided on their candidate — and some Trump supporters relishing his unfiltered language — political analysts said that one of the few groups who can still shift the opinion polls are suburban educated women who usually vote Republican, but who might not be comfortable voting for Mr Trump.
In the 2005 video, which was filmed before he appeared on Access Hollywood, Mr Trump talks about hitting on a married woman. “I moved on her and I failed. I’ll admit it,” said Mr Trump, who had just married his third wife, Melania. Saying that he was “automatically attracted to beautiful” women, he bragged that his star status made it easy to just kiss them. “When you’re a star they let you do it,” he says. “You can do anything.”
The Trump campaign released a statement in the name of Melania Trump, urging voters to forgive her husband. “He has the heart and mind of a leader. I hope people will accept his apology, as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world.”