A host of past and present Republican leaders on Friday night heaped condemnation on Donald Trump’s 2005 recorded comments about attempting to seduce a married woman and kissing and groping others. Nearly all say they still support his presidential campaign.
Illionois Senator Mark Kirk, who has not endorsed Trump, called him a “malignant clown” and said the Republican party should replace him at the top of its ticket.
DJT is a malignant clown - unprepared and unfit to be president of the United States.— Mark Kirk (@SenatorKirk) October 7, 2016
Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who has also declined to endorse Trump, was equally harsh, tweeting “Hitting on married women? Condoning assault? Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America's face to the world.”
Hitting on married women? Condoning assault? Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America's face to the world.— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) October 8, 2016
On Friday night several sitting Republican senators, most facing reelection, issued strongly-worded statements condemning Trump’s comments. None of them rescinded their endorsements of the controversial nominee.
“Donald's comments were vulgar, egregious & impossible to justify. No one should ever talk about any woman in those terms, even in private,” tweeted Senator Marco Rubio, who eventually endorsed Trump after being defeated by him in the Republican presidential primaries.
Donald's comments were vulgar, egregious & impossible to justify.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) October 8, 2016
No one should ever talk about any woman in those terms, even in private.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who endorsed Trump only late last month, tweeted that the comments were “disturbing and inappropriate,” but also did not withdraw his report for the man who ended his presidential bid.
These comments are disturbing and inappropriate, there is simply no excuse for them.— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) October 8, 2016
New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte, who earlier this week found herself in political hot water after saying Donald Trump was a good role model for children, then reversing herself, called Trump’s comments “totally inappropriate and offensive.” Ayotte contends that while she has said publicly that she will vote for Trump, she is not endorsing him.
The most consequential rebuke of the night came from House Speaker Paul Ryan, who said he was “sickened” by Trump’s remarks, and that Trump was no longer welcome at a campaign event they planned to hold together on Saturday.
Ryan also maintains his endorsement of Donald Trump.
Trump released a statement Friday night saying he would send Indiana Governor Mike Pence to Wisconsin in his place and would remain in New York for debate prep Saturday. Earlier, he released a short statement offering a tepid apology "if anyone was offended."
Trump's Virginia campaign chairman Corey Stewart, who is running for Virginia governor in 2017, was one of the few elected Republicans to defend Trump on Friday night, telling WUSA9 in a phone interview "He’s not an angel. He’s not a saint," but "we know who we voted for."
"This is the kind of stuff that nobody cares about," Stewart said. People are worried about the economy. People are worried about national security issues."