- Views & Opinions
Republicans on Friday grappled with a bombshell 2005 audiotape published by The Washington Post in which Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump boasted in vulgar terms about trying to have sex with an unnamed married woman and groping women, saying “when you’re a star, they let you do it.”
The disclosure threatens Trump’s already shaky standing with women.
Trump’s leaked comments spurred a flood of indignation and came at what some have seen as a potentially pivotal point. Sunday’s presidential debate, a town hall-style event, is seen as critical as Trump tries to rebound from a dip in some opinion polls after a rocky performance in the first debate with Hillary Clinton.
“No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever,” said Reince Preibus, chairman of the Republican National Committee.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, the top Republican elected official, said he was “sickened” by the comments and said Trump would not attend a campaign event in Wisconsin with him on Saturday.
“I hope Mr. Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests,” Ryan said in a statement
Trump in a statement shrugged off the leaked tape as “locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago.”
In the recorded conversation, Trump was wearing a microphone and chatting on a bus with Billy Bush, then host of NBC’s “Access Hollywood,” ahead of a segment they were about to tape.
“I did try and f**k her. She was married,” Trump said. “I moved on her like a b**ch, but I couldn’t get there.”
Trump talked about his attraction to beautiful women. “I just start kissing them,” he said.
“And when you’re a star they let you do it,” he said.
“Grab them by the p**sy. You can do anything.”
Trump, who has brought up former President Bill Clinton’s infidelities as a criticism of Hillary Clinton, calling her a “total enabler,” responded to the audio.
“Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended,” Trump said.
“Access Hollywood” confirmed the video in its own report, saying it discovered the comments in its library.
Billy Bush, in a statement to Variety, said he was “embarrassed and ashamed” of his comments.
Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who lost to Trump in the Republican presidential primaries — and who is a cousin to Billy Bush – tweeted that the comments were “reprehensible.”
Mitt Romney, who was the Republican candidate in the 2012 election – and who has long opposed Trump, said his comments were “vile degradations” that “demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America’s face to the world.”