Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Saturday defied party members’ calls for him to quit the presidential race over a 2005 video that surfaced of him talking crudely about women, as open rancor about the GOP’s White House choice thrust the party into its biggest crisis in decades.
“I’d never withdraw. I’ve never withdrawn in my life,” Trump told the Washington Post in a phone interview as his remarks in the video drew near-universal condemnation from leading Republicans and Democrats. There’s “zero chance I’ll quit” and the “support I’m getting is unbelievable,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
In the video, which surfaced on Friday, Trump talks about groping women in the “p---y,” trying and failing to “f--k” a married woman, and being able to “do anything” to women because of his fame.
Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, was no longer expected to appear at a Wisconsin political event with House Speaker Paul Ryan on Saturday afternoon, said two people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named, as one Republican lawmaker after another abandoned Trump in a historic political reckoning just one month before Election Day.
Pence called Trump to tell him of the cancellation, said one of the people.
Calls grew for Trump to step aside -- which would allow the Republican National Committee to fill the ticket’s vacancy -- and some said Pence, the governor of Indiana who has served as a bridge between Trump and the Republican establishment, should take his place. Other Republican lawmakers said they’d write Pence in on their ballot.
Influential Republicans have been reaching out to Pence about what role he might be willing to play in the event that Trump drops out, said two people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named. They didn’t identify those gauging Pence’s interest privately.
Trump mixed a videotaped apology issued shortly after midnight New York time on Saturday with a pledge to bring up former President Bill Clinton’s infidelities -- which he said went far beyond crude words -- and Hillary Clinton’s role in seeking to discredit women involved with her husband.
Ahead of meeting Trump in their second presidential debate Sunday, where Republicans feared Trump will lash out like never before, the Democratic nominee released a of her own. It highlighted Trump’s long history of insulting women and came with a message on her Twitter account: “Women have the power to stop Trump.”
Sensing the greatest threat yet to Republicans’ chances in November’s elections -- and a moral crisis enveloping a party that brands itself as the one of family values -- incumbent lawmakers from battleground states and conservative strongholds alike condemned Trump.
New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte her support of Trump, days after she said she misspoke by calling him a role model for children in a televised debate. She’ll write in Pence’s name on her ballot, she said.
Senator Mike Lee of Utah, who never endorsed the real-estate developer, said, “It’s time for us not to settle” and “someone else” should become the party’s standard-bearer.
Others calling for Trump to step aside included Representatives Mike Coffman of Colorado and Barbara Comstock of Virginia and even Martha Roby and Bradley Byrne from staunchly conservative Alabama. They also included Senators Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mark Kirk of Illinois, and Mike Crapo of Idaho, and Nevada Representative and Senate candidate Joe Heck. Sasse Trump to “let Mike Pence try,” and Crapo the party should “put forward a conservative candidate like Mike Pence who can defeat Hillary Clinton.”
Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah withdrew his endorsement of Trump and said he wished Pence was at the top of the ticket.
“We’re going to have to figure that out at the -- in the coming days and weeks, but it is tragic the way it is right now,” Chaffetz said on CNN.
Spencer Zwick, a top Republican fundraiser, said that “major GOP donors are pulling support from Donald Trump and are now looking to fund an effort to back someone else as the Republican nominee.”
Trump campaign CEO Stephen Bannon was seen entering Trump Tower in Manhattan speaking on his mobile phone. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, top advisers, were also seen entering. A Trump aide who asked not to be named denied a report that Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, in a meeting of Trump advisers inside the tower, said Trump should consider dropping out.
Pence hasn’t addressed the video publicly yet. Trump initially planned to appear at the Wisconsin event too -- which would have been his first joint campaign appearance with Ryan, a tepid supporter -- until his plans were canceled after the video became public.
Ryan joined other party leaders, including 2012 nominee and Trump holdout Mitt Romney, in condemning Trump’s remarks.
Republican operatives said some of the party’s U.S. Senate candidates who are in competitive races would likely contact Trump on Saturday to call on him to step down.
Several strategists who backed other candidates in the presidential primary and have since endorsed Trump said if he is anything but genuinely contrite in the debate, his problems will worsen.
“This was a frat-boy, locker-room, inappropriate rant. How he handles it is critical,” said Saul Anuzis, a former Michigan GOP chairman who was a senior adviser to Ted Cruz. “You can’t just laugh it off. He apparently was trying to show off and needs to be contrite about his lewd comments.”
Even if the RNC could somehow convince Trump to drop out and exercise its authority to fill a vacancy on the ticket, ballots have already been printed and early voting has begun in some states.
The situation evoked memories of the 2010 U.S. Senate election in Alaska, when incumbent Lisa Murkowski lost the Republican primary, then mounted a successful write-in effort in the sparsely populated state. It’s unclear whether Republicans could organize a credible write-drive on a national scale.
“By election day, we’ll be on the ballot or registered as a write-in in 43 states including TX & CA. A new GOP nominee could not match that,” said Evan McMullin, a conservative protest candidate and former Capitol Hill staffer, on Twitter.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.