- REUTERS/Mike Segar
Republicans are fleeing Donald Trump’s camp in droves as a firestorm of criticism over comments he made in a leaked recording continues.
Several prominent Republican figures and politicians have announced they’re withdrawing their support for the GOP presidential nominee since the recording surfaced Friday.
The 2005 recording shows Trump making vulgar comments about women. Trump, who was newly married to his wife Melania at the time, boasted of trying to sleep with a married woman and talked about being able to “grab” women “by the p—y” because “when you’re a star they let you do it.”
Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire withdrew her endorsement Saturday.
Ayotte, locked in a tight re-election fight, announced on Twitter on Saturday morning that she would no longer be voting for Trump and would instead write in a vote for Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate.
“I wanted to be able to support my party’s nominee, chosen by the people, because I feel strongly that we need a change in direction for our country,” Ayotte said.
“However, I’m a mom and an American first, and I cannot and will not support a candidate for president who brags about degrading and assaulting women,” she added. “I will not be voting for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton and instead will be writing in Governor Pence for president on Election Day.”
This isn’t the first instance of Trump endangering Ayotte’s Senate race. She’s up for reelection in New Hampshire, and the race is close.
During a debate earlier this week, she gave an awkward answer when asked whether she thinks Trump is a good role model for kids.
“I would tell a child to absolutely aspire, certainly, to be their best, and to be president, to seek to run for the presidency, absolutely,” she said.
She later issued a statement saying she “misspoke” and that “neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton have set a good example, and I wouldn’t hold up either of them as role models for my kids.”
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota also rescinded his endorsement of Trump on Saturday.
“Donald Trump should withdraw and Mike Pence should be our nominee effective immediately,” he tweeted.
Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho also withdrew his support for Trump on Saturday. He said in a statement that Trump’s “repeated actions and comments toward women have been disrespectful, profane, and demeaning.” He also called for Pence to replace Trump on the Republican ticket.
Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio joined the chorus late Saturday evening, issuing a statement calling Trump’s comment “offensive and wrong” and saying he could no longer support him. “I will be voting for Mike Pence for President,” Portman said.
Several other Republicans had issued similar statements on Friday:
- GOP Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois said on Friday Trump “should drop out” and the Republican National Committee “should engage rules for emergency replacement.” Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, whom Trump recently named as a potential Supreme Court nominee, echoed Kirk. “I wouldn’t hire that person,” Lee said, referring to Trump in a video posted to Facebook. Three-term Republican governor of New York and former 2016 presidential candidate George Pataki tweeted: Trump’s “campaign is a poisonous mix of bigotry & ignorance. Enough! He needs to step down.” A.J. Spiker, a former Iowa GOP chair and adviser to Sen. Rand Paul’s PAC, said Trump was “unfit for public office.” “Donald Trump should resign as the Republican nominee for president,” he tweeted. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman also said Trump should drop out of the race, The Salt Lake City Tribune reported. Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia said Trump “should step aside and allow our party to replace him.”
Bryan Logan and Michelle Mark contributed to this report.