Following the leaked release of a graphic audio tape where Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump described having intercourse with a married woman and his ability to grope women, due to his fame, elected officials of the Republican Party began to back away from the nominee.
The recordings came from Access Hollywood while Trump was talking to host Billy Bush in 2005. Bush has apologized for his part in the conversation.
Speaker Paul Ryan, who has been lukewarm with his support of Trump, blasted the comments and disinvited Trump from the Wisconsin GOP event being held tomorrow.
“I am sickened by what I heard today. Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified. 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,” the Speaker said in a statement.
“In the meantime, he is no longer attending tomorrow’s event in Wisconsin.”
Trump later released a statement saying, “Governor Mike Pence will be representing me tomorrow in Wisconsin.”
Senator Mark Kirk, who is in a tough re-election battle in Illinois, tweeted, “.@realDonaldTrump should drop out. @GOP should engage rules for emergency replacement.” RNC and state rules make it very difficult for the party to replace the nominee after September and many states’ ballot deadlines have passed. In some states, early voting has already begun.
Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who is the Chair of the House Committee on Oversight, rescinded his endorsement of Trump Friday night. He told Fox 13 News, “I’m out. I can no longer in good conscience endorse this person for president. It is some of the most abhorrent and offensive comments that you can possibly imagine.”
There are now questions about whether Trump will be able to survive this controversy. While GOP spokesman Sean Spicer has been denying it, RNC officials reportedly met at Trump Tower with the candidate and his family to discuss the path forward. Trump leaving the race is still apparently an option, but the ballot challenges remain a hurdle. Some have proposed elevating Republican vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence to the top slot while others have called for Pence to resign from the race to save his political career.