With less than a month to go, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign has reached a severe crisis, primarily due to lewd remarks he made on a tape in 2005. The blowback after it was released on October 7 has led many Republicans, who usually make every effort to support their party’s nominee, to abandon him.
Those remarks by Trump to then-Access Hollywood host Billy Bush presented Trump as someone who sought to have an affair with Bush’s then co-host, Nancy O’Dell. However, the most controversial comments dealt with Trump casually discussing sexual assault of women by talking about forcefully grabbing their private parts.
In an effort to limit the resulting damage, Trump released a video late that night in which he expressed regret for his comments. However, during the course of his comments, he also criticized the previously lurid actions of former President Bill Clinton, the husband of his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Even before Trump’s effort at apologizing, a number of Republican politicians used various forms of social media to denounce his comments and pull their support of his campaign. That number grew over the next day.
Prior to the apology, Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois tweeted that Trump should drop out so that Republicans could find a suitable replacement. Kirk, who’s in the midst of a contentious battle for his Senate seat with a female candidate, had announced back in June that he wouldn’t support Trump.
Two politicians from Utah quickly followed less than an hour later. Rep. Jason Chaffetz indicated that his change of heart was based on his belief that the offensive nature of the comments made it a conscience-based decision. Meanwhile, the state’s governor, Gary Herbert, tweeted that he wouldn’t vote for Trump and couldn’t vote for Clinton.
Later that evening, two more Utah politicians joined in: Senator Mike Lee and Rep. Chris Stewart. Lee posted a video asking Trump to quit while Stewart specifically indicated that Trump should drop out in order to have the nominee’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, take his spot.
Before the night was over, Colorado congressman Mike Coffman indicated that having Trump at the top of the Republican ticket would ensure defeat in the presidential race. A congresswoman, Virginia’s Barbara Comstock, who had not supported Trump, also pushed for Pence to take the reins of the campaign. Meanwhile, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, endorsed that move after having previously rejected Trump’s candidacy.
All of those remarks served as a precursor to an onslaught of calls the following day. These either requested that Trump step down or served as a rejection of any endorsement. A host of Republican congressmen and women also joined the list as did a number of governors.
Among Republican senators, the group included: Sheely Moore Capito of West Virginia, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, John Thune of South Dakota, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Rob Portman of Ohio and John McCain of Arizona. In addition, both senators from Alaska, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, joined the group.
Among the many governors on the list, two from key battleground states, Brian Sandoval of Nevada and John Kasich of Ohio, were on the list. Neither had endorsed Trump, with Kasich one of the contenders for the Republican nomination that was won by the billionaire businessman.
McCain’s rejection also was not a surprise after Trump had ridiculed his seven years as a prisoner of war during a discussion in the early portion of his campaign.