As Donald Trump dug in, ignoring calls for him to step aside over his vulgar and sexist remarks about women, leading Republicans began moving away from him rescinding their endorsement throwing the party into its worst crisis this election season, and just the day before a crucial presidential debate.
Trump, who seemed to have decided to brazen it out, told The Wall Street Journal there was “zero chance I’ll quit”, and that “I never, ever give up”. He added, indicating every intention to continue, “The support I’m getting is unbelievable, because Hillary Clinton is a horribly flawed candidate.”
But the Republican party appears to have reached a breaking point, having watched helplessly for months Trump barrel his way to the top in an offensive, divisive campaign replete with insults and innuendoes. Starting Friday night, a growing number of its prominent leaders withdrew their endorsement, the most prominent of them being Senator John McCain.
“I thought it important I respect the fact that Donald Trump won a majority of the delegates by the rules our party set,” McCain, a reluctant backer, said in a statement. “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.”
Others Republicans who pulled their support included Senator Kelly Ayotte, who said on Twitter, “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.”
Still others openly called for the nominee to leave or be dumped and be replaced on the ticket by someone else. Congressman Charlie Dent urged the party leadership to abandon the nominee as it was not longer possible to “defend the indefensible”.
Trump can be heard boasting about groping women’s genitals and speaks of them in grossly vulgar terms in a 2005 video recording, whose release on Friday shocked the country and plunged his candidacy, and the Republican party, into a crisis.
Though the party denied reports that it had decided to direct money and support away from Trump to party candidates running for the House and senate, it was clearly in tumult.
And so was his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who refused to appear at a campaign on Trump’s behalf and served him an ultimatum of sorts to somehow make up for his remarks at the debate.
“I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them,” Pence said in a statement, adding, “We pray for his family and look forward to the opportunity he has to show what is in his heart when he goes before the nation tomorrow night.”
Trump and Hillary Clinton are squaring off at their second of three debates on Sunday night, which could be the last chance for the Republican nominee to rescue his campaign.
Trump will try, for sure, and the question everyone is asking is whether he will bring up Bill Clinton’s infidelities, as he has threatened to several times in the past few days.