Trump will 'never' abandon presidential bid, even as running mate criticizes him
Candidate faces intensifying calls to quit following the release of his vulgar and sexually charged comments
Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence issued a statement Saturday saying that he cannot condone or defend Donald Trump's comments about women.
"As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump in the eleven-year-old video released yesterday," he said. "I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them."
Yet one day before Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton meet in Sunday's second presidential debate, a defiant Donald Trump insisted he would "never" abandon his White House bid.
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! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MAGA?src=hash">#MAGA</a>—@realDonaldTrump
Trump is facing an intensifying backlash from Republican leaders across the nation who called on him to quit the race following the release of his vulgar and sexually charged comments caught on tape.
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With Republicans from Utah to Alabama to New Hampshire turning their back on their nominee, GOP loyalists like House Speaker Paul Ryan refused to give up on Trump, who has long faced criticism from within his own party, but never to this degree. Frustration turned to panic across the GOP with early voting already underway in some states and Election Day one month away.
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My statement below: <a href="https://t.co/92VYEAxIcl">pic.twitter.com/92VYEAxIcl</a>—@mike_pence
"As disappointed as I've been with his antics throughout this campaign, I thought supporting the nominee was the best thing for our country and our party," Alabama Rep. Martha Roby said in a statement. "Now, it is abundantly clear that the best thing for our country and our party is for Trump to step aside and allow a responsible, respectable Republican to lead the ticket."
WARNING: This video contains graphic language
Trump declared he would not yield the GOP nomination under any circumstances. "Zero chance I'll quit," he told The Wall Street Journal. He told The Washington Post: "I'd never withdraw. I've never withdrawn in my life." He claimed to have "tremendous support."
Trump tapes midnight apology
In a videotaped midnight apology, Trump declared "I was wrong and I apologize" after being caught on tape bragging about aggressively groping women in 2005. He also defiantly dismissed the revelations as "nothing more than a distraction" from a decade ago and signalled he would press his presidential campaign by arguing that rival Hillary Clinton has committed greater sins against women.
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"I've said some foolish things," Trump said in a video posted on his Facebook page early Saturday. "But there's a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims."
Here is my statement. <a href="https://t.co/WAZiGoQqMQ">pic.twitter.com/WAZiGoQqMQ</a>—@realDonaldTrump
Trump addressed what was arguably the most difficult day of his candidacy on Twitter later in the morning: "Certainly has been an interesting 24 hours!"
Trump's wife says his words are 'unacceptable and offensive'
Melania Trump said in a statement that "the words my husband used are unacceptable and offensive to me." However, she went on to support him, saying "this does not represent the man I know."
"I hope people will accept his apology, as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation," her statement said.
The latest explosive revelation marked a tipping point for some party loyalists, while forcing vulnerable Republican candidates to answer a painful question: Even if they condemn Trump's vulgar comments, will they still vote for him?
New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte answered the question with a loud No on Saturday, reversing her previous position that she would vote for Trump even though she declined to endorse him.
Tape overshadows Clinton email hack
"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," Ayotte said. "I will not be voting for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton and instead will be writing in Gov. Pence for president on Election Day."
The release of the videotape almost completely overshadowed the release of hacked emails from inside the Hillary Clinton campaign that revealed the contents of some of her previously secret paid speeches to Wall Street.
The Democratic nominee told bankers behind closed doors that she favoured "open trade and open borders" and said Wall Street executives were best-positioned to help overhaul the U.S. financial sector. Such comments were distinctively at odds with her tough talk about trade and Wall Street during the primary campaign, when she catered to the party's left under pressure from rival Bernie Sanders.
Republican strategist Terry Sullivan, who previously led Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, predicted Trump's defeat. "It's over," he said. "The only good news is that in 30 days Trump will be back to being just a former reality TV star like the Kardashians, and Republican candidates across America will no longer be asked to respond to his stupid remarks."
Some Trump loyalists defiantly defended their nominee.
"I still have my Trump sign on my yard and everybody on my street does too," said Pennsylvania GOP chairman Rob Gleason. "It's business as usual, with door-knocking today."
He went on: "I don't agree with what was said — it's not a good thing to be saying." But he added: "campaigns are filled with lots of ups and downs."
One by one, outraged GOP lawmakers have condemned Trump's comments in a 2005 video obtained and released Friday by The Washington Post and NBC News. In the video, Trump is heard describing attempts to have sex with a married woman. He also brags about women letting him kiss and grab them because he is famous.
"When you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything," Trump says in the previously unaired comments. He adds seconds later: "Grab them by the p——. You can do anything."
Trump supporters boo Ryan
House Speaker Ryan was booed and heckled by Trump supporters at a party unity rally in his congressional district in Wisconsin on Saturday, an event that the Republican nominee had originally planned to attend.
Defiant Trump supporters voiced their frustration at Ryan and other Republicans who spoke at the county fairgrounds in front of two large American flags, rows of pumpkins and stacks of straw. Ryan — who said Friday he was "sickened" by Trump's words — was heckled with shouts of "Shame on you!" and "You turned your backs on us!"
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, the only speaker to directly address Trump's crude remarks, was heckled when he said "I know Donald Trump has said some things that are bad."
"Get over it!" someone shouted.
Ryan obliquely referred to the furor as "a bit of an elephant in the room," at the opening of his seven-minute speech.
"It is a troubling situation, and I'm serious, it is," Ryan said. "I put out a statement about this last night. I meant what I said and it's still how I feel. But that is not what we are here to talk about today."
Other speakers — including Sen. Ron Johnson and Gov. Scott Walker — didn't mention Trump and instead focused on state contests. But Walker and Johnson both released statements ahead of the event denouncing Trump.
But Ryan did not pull his endorsement.
Republicans withdraw support
One of the high profile republicans to withdraw their support for Trump was Sen. John McCain, who was the Republican presidential candidate in 2008.
McCain said he would not vote for Clinton, but would write in the name of a conservative Republican.
"But Donald Trump's behaviour this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women
and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy."
Republican Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho, is also among a growing list who will no longer vote for Trump.
"This is not a decision that I have reached lightly, but his pattern of behaviour left me no choice," the Republican senator said in a statement.
Other party members are asking Trump to resign and have Pence become the nominee.
Meanwhile, Ryan fundraising chief Spencer Zwick said he's been fielding calls from donors who "want help putting money together to fund a new person to be the GOP nominee."
Zwick told The Associated Press that a write-in or "sticker campaign" relying on social media could "actually work."
While there has never been a winning write-in campaign in a U.S. presidential contest, such an effort could make it harder for Trump to win. Zwick did not identify which "new person" might be the focus of a write-in campaign, although he was briefly supportive of a third run for Mitt Romney, the 2012 nominee, last year.
This is also a big part of the conversation on social media with more than one-quarter of Conservative voices on Twitter using the phrase 'drop out' when discussing Trump, though not all called for the Republican to resign, according to data collected by media intelligence company Cision.
While funding another candidate could siphon votes away from Trump, the GOP's biggest donors have little leverage even if they threaten to withhold money for the rest of the campaign. Trump's campaign has relied far more on small contributors across the country than from the party's stalwart donors who write the biggest checks possible.
'You, sir, are the distraction'
Utah Sen. Mike Lee, like Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, said Trump had finally gone too far.
"You, sir, are the distraction," Lee said in a video posted to his Facebook page after Trump's apology.
Lee called on Trump to abandon his campaign, saying it was time for the Republican Party to "expect more. There is no need for us to settle."
On Sunday Oct. 9, from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. ET, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump face off in the second presidential debate.
The debate will be carried live on CBC News Network, CBC Radio One, live streamed on CBCNews.ca and on our CBC News Facebook page and YouTube channel.