NEW YORK/ WASHINGTON: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump plunged into a deep crisis on Friday after a bombshell 2005 recording of his lewd remarks about women came to light.
A stream of Republican leaders denounced the remarks, first published by the Washington Post, which threaten Trump's already shaky standing with women voters just a month ahead of the November 8 presidential election.
Scrambling to prevent his campaign from falling apart, Trump released a hastily prepared video apology, expressing regret about the comments and claiming he was a ‘changed man’ while raising the infidelities of former US president Bill Clinton, the husband of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Amid calls for him the give up his candidacy, Trump also vowed to remain in the presidential race.
In the controversial recording, Trump boasted in vulgar terms about trying to have sex with an unidentified married woman and groping women. Talking about his attraction to beautiful women, the Republican candidate said: “"I just start kissing them… And when you're a star they let you do it."
The conversation was recorded in 2005 while Trump was speaking with TV host Billy Bush of ‘Access Hollywood’ while they were about to tape a segment about a planned cameo appearance by the New York businessman on the soap opera ‘Days of Our Lives’.
House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the top Republican elected official, said he was ‘sickened’ by the comments and said Trump would no longer attend a campaign event in Wisconsin with him on Saturday. Reince Preibus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said: "No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever."
US Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, who has been one of Clinton's fiercest critics, said he had retracted his endorsement of Trump, telling CNN he would not be able to look his 15-year-old daughter in the eye if he voted for Trump. Utah's Republican Governor Gary Herbert said on Twitter he would also no longer vote for Trump.
Republican lawmaker Mike Coffman from Colorado told CBS that Trump should "step aside" and said "his defeat at this point seems almost certain."
However, Trump vowed to remain in the race even after prominent members of his party withdrew their support and urged him to drop out. “There is zero chance I’ll quit,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
"Anyone who knows me knows these words don't reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologise," he said in a video statement released on his Facebook page. But despite stressing that he was a ‘changed man’, the Republican frontrunner attempted to shift the focus on his opponent Hillary, saying he would “talk more about the pasts of both Clintons.”
In an earlier statement, Trump shrugged off the leaked tape as "locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago."
Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2016.