0147 GMT February 19, 2020
Amid the mounting criticism of Trump within his own party on Saturday, even his running mate Mike Pence refused to defend the billionaire politician, saying that he was “offended” by the obscene comments made in a taped video that surfaced Friday.
“As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump in the eleven-year-old video released yesterday,” Pence said in a statement. “I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them.”
Trump’s late-night apology for the remarks failed to quell the unprecedented controversy over his comments, which include explicit language boasting sexual harassment of women, prompting growing demands by Republicans for him to quit the race.
The development came just a day before a pivotal second presidential debate between Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and coincided with controversy surrounding Clinton’s leaked emails unveiling her affinity with the Wall Street.
While Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate continue to abandon Trump in droves, influential right-wing Evangelical leaders -- well known for their extreme anti-Muslim and pro-Israel positions – have reiterated their support for Trump despite his highly unethical and abusive remarks about women.
Family Research Council head Tony Perkins said in an interview that his support for Trump is about conservative policy position, not personal values.
Speaking with BuzzFeed News Perkins said, “My personal support for Donald Trump has never been based upon shared values, it is based upon shared concerns about issues such as: justices on the Supreme Court that ignore the constitution, America’s continued vulnerability to Islamic terrorists and the systematic attack on religious liberty that we’ve seen in the last 7 1/2 years.”
This is while Faith and Freedom Coalition president and veteran Christian politician Ralph Reed cited abortion, the economy and the Middle East as keys to his continued support for Trump.
“Voters of faith are voting on issues like who will protect unborn life, defend religious freedom, create jobs, and oppose the Iran nuclear deal,” said Reed.
He further added, “Ten-year-old tapes of private conversation with a television talk show host rank very low on their hierarchy of concerns.”
Meanwhile, the exploding controversy has thrown Republicans up and down the ballot into crisis mode and has put party in a desperate position as it seeks to maintain its majority in the US Senate just a month before the November 8 Election Day.
“I can no longer look past this pattern of behavior and inappropriate comments from Donald Trump,” said Nevada Congressman Joe Heck, who is in a tight race for a Senate seat. “My wife, my daughters, my mother, my sister and all women deserve better. The American people deserve better.”
New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte also reacted to the latest scandal, saying, “I will not be voting for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton and instead will be writing in Governor Pence on Election Day.”
Arizona Senator John McCaine said, “Donald Trump’s behavior 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.”
Virginia Congresswoman Barbara Comstock also blasted her party’s presidential nominee emphasizing, “This is disgusting, vile, and disqualifying. No woman should ever be subjected to this type of obscene behavior and it is unbecoming of anybody seeking high office.”
Moreover, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard stated, “Enough is enough. Donald Trump should withdraw in favor of Governor Mike Pence. This election is too important.”
This is while Utah Congressman Chris Stewart said, “I'm incredibly disappointed in our party's candidate. And unlike the Democrats who have proven completely unwilling to hold Secretary Clinton accountable for her illegal activities that endangered our national security, I am willing to hold Mr. Trump accountable. I am therefore calling for him to step aside and to allow Mike Pence to lead our party.”
US Vice President Joe Biden also condemned Trump’s leaked remarks on Saturday, saying they were "demeaning" and a form of “sexual assault.”
Meanwhile, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson used the controversy to reach out to Republicans fleeing Trump’s candidacy in the wake of backlash over the abusive comments.
“It’s time to vote your conscience,” Johnson said in a statement. “Our nation and our challenges are much greater than the character or behavior of one man. Join us, and we pledge to present voters with a real alternative to what has become an embarrassing side show."