Ohio Gov. John Kasich had a simple message for Republicans who are struggling with how to properly respond to the recent leaked 2005 tape of GOP nominee Donald Trump boasting about using his celebrity status to grope women without their consent.
“Lead by example,” he told Business Insider in a Thursday interview.
The Ohio governor and one-time 2016 presidential hopeful, who was the final Trump primary challenger to drop out of the race, released an extended response to the tape over the weekend. In that response, he said the tape was not “surprising to me or many others.”
“Many people were angry and questioned why I would not endorse Donald Trump or attend the Republican convention,” he said. “I’ve long had concerns with Donald Trump that go beyond his temperament.”
He mentioned that the pair have “substantive” policy difference on trade, Russia, and the budget, adding that Trump had not changed his “disqualifying” policy stances.
“I’ve also encouraged him to change his behaviour for the better and offer a positive, inclusive vision for our country, but he has not,” he said. “It’s clear that he hasn’t changed and has no interest in doing so. As a result, Donald Trump is a man I cannot and should not support.”
Many Republicans had quickly condemned the tape, during which Trump said he could “grab” women “by the p—y” because “when you’re a star they let you do it.”
Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Rob Portman of Ohio all unendorsed the Manhattan billionaire, who has faced accusations of making unwanted sexual advances on women in the days that followed. Trump has vehemently denied those claims.
Republican congressional leadership, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, condemned Trump’s comments but did not unendorse the mogul. Trump went on to rip Ryan and McCain in the coming days.
Others, such as Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and Deb Fischer of Nebraska, called for Trump to drop out of the race over the weekend — but then appeared to shift their positions into one that still included either their support or potential for it.
During his Thursday interview, Kasich said his original statement says it all.
“I don’t have any more words,” he said. “I’ve tried to do the best I can to lead by my actions in an appropriate way without recrimination or anything like that, because I … I’m a very happy person. I don’t think I need to say any more than what I’ve demonstrated.”
“And my action over the weekend was not based on just this incident, which is terrible, it’s been a whole consistent message of division and anger,” he said. “And I don’t support that.”
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