Despite many Republicans distancing themselves from Donald Trump this weekend over his sexually charged comments in a leaked 2005 videotape, the presidential nominee's legacy of divisiveness threatens to taint a generation of GOP leaders for years to come, some observers say.
“There is nobody who holds any position of responsibility who in private conversations views Donald Trump as equipped mentally, morally and intellectually to be the president of the United States,” Steve Schmidt, a longtime Republican strategist, told The Washington Post.
“But scores of Republican leaders have failed a fundamental test of moral courage and political leadership in not speaking truth to the American people about what is so obvious," he said.
Republican consultant Rick Wilson, an adviser to independent candidate Evan McMullin, was even more blunt: "Everything Trump touches dies."
Among those whose futures could easily be hampered by their association with the developer, observers told the Post, include House Speaker Paul Ryan, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst – even Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
Most of these Republicans condemned Trump over his remarks about groping and having sex with married women that were caught on a live microphone in the tape that was disclosed Friday by the Post and NBC News.
Trump issued a videotaped apology late Friday. His wife, Melania, slammed the remarks in a statement on Saturday.
"Most Republican office-holders gritted their teeth and endorsed and even embraced Donald Trump," John Stipanovich, a Florida GOP lobbyist, told the Post.
"All of those people were collaborators – and all of those people will have to live with their collaboration for the rest of their political lives."
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