Trump plunged into crisis as GOP recoils from vulgar remarks
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Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections Simone Biles, Vince Lombardi and the courage to walk away MORE sought to quell an uproar that threatens to send his campaign to ruin early Saturday, apologizing in a midnight video for obscene sexual remarks caught on tape in 2005.

The apology for the lewd remarks, which featured crude and aggressive sexual slang, came less than 48 hours before Trump and Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClintons, Stacey Abrams meeting Texas Democrats Biden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote MORE are scheduled to meet in the second presidential debate.

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Trump’s apology came as he was under intense pressure from GOP leaders, amid an unprecedented outpouring of anger from conservatives, some of whom are demanding he pull out of the race entirely.

There are questions about whether the national party is considering cutting Trump loose, although the Republican National Committee denied that speculation on Friday.

At the very least, the controversy is likely to further damage Trump’s standing among women and independent voters, potentially dooming a campaign that was already in a tailspin.

Trump will have to further account for his horribly embarrassing remarks in front of tens of millions of people at Sunday night’s debate in St. Louis.

The video statement, released at 12:09 a.m. on Saturday, was the first step for Trump if he’s going to turn his campaign around.

In it, he vowed to “be a better man tomorrow.”

“I've never said I'm a perfect person or pretended to be someone that I'm not,” Trump said. “I've said and done things that I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me know these words don't reflect who I am--I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.”

It was a rare moment of contrition for the famously unapologetic businessman.

But the apology may also anger Trump’s critics. 

He dismissed the controversy as a “distraction” and sought to turn the damaging revelations about his own personal life against Clinton.

Trump said he would go on the attack against Clinton for her treatment of the women who have had affairs with Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonClintons, Stacey Abrams meeting Texas Democrats The Koreas are talking again — Moon is for real, but what about Kim? For families, sending money home to Cuba shouldn't be a political football MORE or have accused him of sexual assault; something Republicans have warned him not to do.

“I've said some foolish things, but there is a big difference between the words and actions of other people,” Trump said. “Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed, and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days. See you at the debate on Sunday.”

It was a bizarre and provocative ending to a pressure-packed eight-hour period that may represent the defining moment of the campaign.

The fallout from Trump’s 2005 remarks – which came to light on Friday afternoon after the Washington Post released hot-mic audio of Trump and former “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush swapping sex stories – has been volcanic.

Democrats are casting Trump’s remarks as “predatory.” 



Republicans were already concerned about Democratic plans to link their candidates to Trump, fearing it could lead to House and Senate defeats.

Those fears were soaring on Friday night.

Top Republican leaders from Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAn August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done After police rip Trump for Jan. 6, McCarthy again blames Pelosi The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands MORE (R-Ky.) on released furious statements demanding that Trump issue a full apology.

Trump’s former primary rivals, like Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz228 Republican lawmakers urge Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade GOP, Democrats battle over masks in House, Senate Human rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action MORE (R-Texas), turned up heat on the nominee, characterizing his remarks as beyond the pale. Cruz’s top ally on Capitol Hill, Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeHouse GOP stages mask mandate protest 228 Republican lawmakers urge Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade Economic growth rose to 6.5 percent annual rate in second quarter MORE (R-Utah), called on Trump to drop out.



Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Juan Williams: Biden's child tax credit is a game-changer Trump clash ahead: Ron DeSantis positions himself as GOP's future in a direct-mail piece MORE (R-Wis.) backed out of their first planned joint appearance, a Saturday event in the battleground state of Wisconsin that was meant as a show of unity. 

Ryan said he was “sickened” by what he heard from Trump.

“Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified,” Ryan said in a statement. “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.”



Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzCongress's latest hacking investigation should model its most recent Fox News Audio expands stable of podcasts by adding five new shows The myth of the conservative bestseller MORE (R-Utah), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, went on his local news channel to retract his endorsement of Trump.



“I’m out,” Chaffetz said.



Some of Trump’s Republican critics — including vulnerable GOP Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkDuckworth announces reelection bid Brave new world: Why we need a Senate Human Rights Commission  Senate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls MORE (R-Ill.) — are demanding that Trump leave the ticket and allow running mate Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceOfficers' powerful Capitol riot testimony underscores Pelosi's partisan blunder RealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Want to improve vaccine rates? Ask for this endorsement MORE to take the lead.



The furor stirred rampant speculation that Republicans abandon Trump to focus on protecting majorities in the House and Senate. 

Sean Spicer, the Republican National Committee’s chief strategist, sought to put those concerns to bed, denying reports of late-night meetings to replace the nominee.

 

At present, Trump has not been abandoned by party leaders, but his situation is precarious.

His early response, in which he called the remarks “locker room” talk and declined to offer a full apology, only made the situation worse for him.



“I apologize if anyone was offended,” Trump said.


In the tape, Trump talks about how he tried to “f—k” former “Access Hollywood” host Nancy O’Dell by buying her furniture, and went on to boast about how he used his celebrity to come on to women.

"When you're a star," Trump says, women let you "do anything."

"You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything.

"Grab them by the p----,” Trump says. "You can do anything."



The controversy could not have come at a worse time for Trump, whose campaign had been in a tailspin since the first debate.

“The party cannot continue to support a nominee who clearly has no respect for over half of the voting population,” one top Republican told The Hill.



Clinton and her running mate Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Watchdog blasts government's handling of Afghanistan conflict | Biden asks Pentagon to look into mandatory vaccines | Congress passes new Capitol security bill GOP, Democrats battle over masks in House, Senate Senators introduce bipartisan bill to expand foreign aid partnerships MORE sought to make Trump’s past derogatory remarks about women the centerpiece of their debate arguments against Trump at previous debates, and are sure to make Trump answer for them on Sunday.

“This is horrific,” Clinton tweeted. “We must not allow this man to become president.”