NEW YORK – Republican Donald Trump vowed not to drop out of the 2016 presidential race, he told the Wall Street Journal on Saturday.
The Republican nominee said there is “zero chance I’ll quit” and that the support he is getting is “unbelievable.”
Republican elected officials, who had stuck by Donald Trump through months of controversy, began to flee his campaign Saturday even as the embattled candidate declared: “I’d never withdraw. I’ve never withdrawn in my life.”
A day after a video became public in which Trump could be heard boasting that he could grope women because when you are a star, they let you do it, his campaign appeared on the verge of melting down.
On Saturday, Trump apologized for the lewd and sexually explicit remarks he made a decade ago. He posted a defiant 90-second video just after midnight on social media, saying he is not a “perfect person” and the comments “don’t reflect who I am.”
But throughout the day, the list of Republicans rescinding their support for Trump grew as party officials tried to prevent what they see as a now-inevitable collapse at the top of the ticket from destroying their chances of retaining control of the House and Senate.
Trumps own running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, said Saturday he cannot defend Trumps comments about women.
As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump in the 11-year-old video, said Pence, who reportedly also was skipping a campaign stop in Wisconsin where he was to fill in for Trump alongside House Speaker Paul Ryan.I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them.
Senator Kelly Ayotte, locked in a close battle for reelection in New Hampshire, issued a statement saying she no longer would vote for Trump and instead write in Pence.
I cannot and will not support a candidate who brags about degrading and assaulting women, she wrote.
Less than a week ago, in a televised debate, Ayotte had said that Trump could be a role model a remark that she tried to take back the next day, but which her Democratic opponent already had featured in an attack ad.
A few hours after Ayotte released her statement Saturday, Republican Congressman Joe Heck of Nevada, who is also in the middle of a closely contested race, said at a rally in Las Vegas that he, too, would not support Trump.
I can no longer look past the pattern of behavior and comments that have been made by Donald Trump, he said. Therefore, I cannot in good conscience continue to support Donald Trump.
Heck’s statement drew some boos from the crowd, an indication of the potential trouble that Republicans running for office may face as they try to distance themselves from the partys nominee without alienating voters who still support him.
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the third-ranking Republican in the chamber, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Sen. Mike Crapo, from reliably Republican Idaho, all called for Trump to step down from the ticket. So did Congressman Martha Roby of Alabama, whose statement early Saturday appeared to trigger a growing number of others.
And Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard who briefly sought the Republican nomination, said Pence should replace Trump at the top of the ticket.
As the groundswell built, Hugh Hewitt, an influential conservative radio host, urged Trump to step down as the nominee, predicting that more damaging revelations from Trumps past would be unearthed.
Hewitt had been a reluctant, but ultimately committed, Trump supporter.
In the spring, he had called for Republicans to change their nominating convention rules to replace Trump as the nominee.
But he embraced Trump in June, arguing that the Republican candidate would be better in fighting terrorism than Hillary Clinton. In July, he said that of course he was voting for Trump, citing the power to appoint Supreme Court justices as his top concern.
On Saturday, he said Trump should step down for the benefit of the country, the party and his family.
Reaffirming his decision not to withdraw, Trump said he was motivated to continue because he is “running against her”—Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Its because she’s so bad. She’s so flawed as a candidate.
Running against her, I can’t say it’d be the same if I ran against someone else, but running against her makes it a lot easier, that’s for sure,” he said.