Vulgar Trump has Republicans in deep crisis mode
DONALD Trump’s lewd videotaped remarks about women threw his White House campaign and the Republican Party into crisis, just 30 days from the election and on the eve of his second debate with Democratic party rival Hillary Clinton.
Mr Trump nevertheless rejected growing calls from elected members of his own party to step aside over the 2005 remarks, insisting there is “zero chance I’ll quit” the presidential race.
“We’ll remember this day for a long time,” David Gergen, who has served as adviser to four US presidents, told CNN.
“A civil war is breaking out in the Republican ranks.”
In the early evening hours of October 8, a defiant Mr Trump stepped outside his Trump Tower skyscraper in New York, brandishing his fist to cheers from dozens of supporters.
Asked if he was staying in the race, he said, “100 percent.”
Mr Trump’s wife Melania said she was offended by her husband’s “unacceptable and offensive” comments boasting about his ability to grope women as he pleases, caught on a hot mic just months after the two married in the real estate magnate’s third marriage.
But she urged American voters to support him.
“I hope people will accept his apology, as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world,” Ms Trump said.
The videotape, released on October 7 by The Washington Post, forced a rare apology from a campaign already peppered by controversies over Mr Trump’s treatment of women, roiling his Republican Party.
The Republican National Committee appeared to have halted part of its “Victory” program to elect Mr Trump, with the RNC asking a vendor to “put a hold” on mail production, the Politico reported.
CNN said the RNC was considering ending a joint fundraising agreement with the Trump campaign.
Mr Trump called the disclosure a “distraction”, defiantly attacking the Clintons for husband Bill Clinton’s past infidelities, and hinting strongly he would say more on the topic during the second debate in St Louis, Missouri.
At a campaign event, Bill Clinton was heckled by an apparent Trump supporter who said, “You’re a rapist!” But the ex-president brushed it off as an attempt by Republicans to “make it up” after the backlash over Mr Trump’s vulgar comments.
Mr Trump denied his campaign was in crisis and predicted the controversy would blow over.
“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! #MAGA,” he said on Twitter. The hashtag refers to his campaign slogan “Make America great again”.
Republican reaction to the videotape came fast and furious, with some calling on the bombastic billionaire to step aside or allow running mate Mike Pence to take the top of the ticket, and others simply withdrawing their endorsement.
Mr Pence, the governor of Indiana, said that as a husband and father he was “offended” by Mr Trump’s remarks.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, the top Republican officeholder, said he was “sickened” by Mr Trump’s comments, and disinvited him from a political event in Wisconsin.
About a dozen senators, a dozen members of the House of Representatives and three governors – all Republicans – have withdrawn their
support for Mr Trump.
Among senior party figures, Condoleezza Rice – a former secretary of state and security adviser under president George W Bush – said, “Enough! Donald Trump should not be President. He should withdraw.”
Senator John McCain, the 2008 presidential nominee with whom Mr Trump has sparred repeatedly, said, “Trump’s behaviour ... makes it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy.”
Governor John Kasich of Ohio, a contender in the Republican primaries, said Mr Trump’s comments were “disgusting” and that “our country deserves better.”
Actor-director Robert de Niro weighed in, saying, “I’d like to punch him in the face.”
But top Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani, a former New York mayor, said, “There is nothing that would cause his dropping out.”
With the November 8 elections one month away and Ms Clinton leading in the polls by nearly 5 percentage points nationally, the latest uproar has plunged Mr Trump into the deepest crisis of his turbulent campaign.
In the video, Mr Trump uses vulgar and predatory language as he describes grabbing women’s crotches, and brags about trying to have sex with a woman he knew was married.