Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, withdrew his support for Donald Trump Saturday in response to the shocking leaked 2005 recording of the 2016 GOP nominee boasting about being able to “grab” women “by the p—y” because “when you’re a star they let you do it.”
The recording of Trump, which was picked up by a hot mic and published by The Washington Post on Friday, came from an interaction between Trump and television personality Billy Bush. In addition to his comments about grabbing women “by the p—y,” Trump made a litany of other sexually suggestive remarks.
McCain said it was “impossible” to offer support to a candidate who “boasts about sexual assaults,” going further in his language than the litany of other Republicans who withdrew their endorsements.
“In addition to my well known differences with Donald Trump on public policy issues, I have raised questions about his character after his comments on Prisoners of War, the Khan Gold Star family, Judge [Gonzalo] Curiel and earlier inappropriate comments about women,” he said.
He was citing times Trump mocked the Arizona Republican’s prisoner-of-war status, feuded with the parents of a slain Muslim US soldier, and ripped a federal judge for not being able to treat him fairly because of his heritage.
The Arizona senator is currently locked in a tight reelection battle.
“Just this week, he made outrageous statements about the innocent men in the Central Park Five case,” McCain said, noting Trump’s recent assertion that the group known as the “Central Park Five” was guilty of a late 1980s rape for which DNA exonerated them.
At the time, Trump took out a full-page ad in a the New York Times calling for the re-institution of the death penalty for the five men.
“As I said yesterday, there are no excuses for Donald Trump’s offensive and demeaning comments in the just released video; no woman should ever be victimized by this kind of inappropriate behaviour,” McCain said. “He alone bears the burden of his conduct and alone should suffer the consequences.”
“I have wanted to support the candidate our party nominated,” he continued. “He was not my choice, but as a past nominee, I thought it important I respect the fact that Donald Trump won a majority of the delegates by the rules our party set. I thought I owed his supporters that deference.”
But the leaked recording was the final straw for McCain.
“Donald Trump’s behaviour 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,” he said.
He added that his wife, Cindy, “with her strong background in human rights and respect for women,” agrees with the decision.
“Cindy and I will not vote for Donald Trump,” he said. “I have never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate and we will not vote for Hillary Clinton. We will write in the name of some good conservative Republican who is qualified to be President.”
Trump addressed the matter in a Friday statement, in which he called the comments “locker room banter” and added that former President Bill Clinton has said “far worse to me on the golf course.”
That was later followed by a late-night video address, offering a brief apology and saying he looked forward to the Sunday night presidential debate. He posted a tweet Saturday morning to call the past day “certainly … interesting.”
Almost immediately, Trump came under fire from those on both sides of the aisle — as many top Republicans either strongly condemned the comments or unendorsed the Manhattan billionaire altogether.
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