Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump received little cover from his own party for his vulgar remarks about women, leaving him to bear the fallout largely alone ahead of the pivotal Sunday debate. 

After audio surfaced Friday of Trump saying being a “star” allowed him to do whatever he wanted to women, the network of support that has defended him through other past controversies appeared to fall apart.  

{mosads}The past 24 hours have been fraught with rescinded endorsements from Republican lawmakers and party leaders, with the threat of more to come if he can’t do damage control in Sunday’s debate against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee. 

Trump appears defiant as many Republicans turn their backs on him, tweeting Saturday that the “self-righteous hypocrites” will suffer in their elections and that he still has “tremendous support,” adding, “except for some Republican ‘leadership.'”

But top campaign surrogates were pulled off their Sunday political show appearances and replaced with adviser Rudy Giuliani, who struggled to offer a defense for the GOP nominee.

Both Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who denounced Trump’s remarks Friday, abandoned their Sunday show appearances, leaving Giuliani to tour the circuit playing defense.

“Men at times talk like that,” Giuliani said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” adding that he thought the comments were “horrible.”  

“He said he realized that he was wrong, and that doesn’t reflect the way he looks at things today. The question is, is this the one issue on which we should decide [the election]?”

In the 2005 audio, released by The Washington Post Friday, Trump brags about trying to have sex with a married woman and said that as a celebrity, women let him “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,” he says in the audio. “Grab them by the p—y.”

Fellow Republicans have jumped ship and withdrawn their endorsements of Trump, while others have even called for him to stand down.  

“I have serious doubts now about Mr. Trump’s ability to defeat Hillary Clinton. In fact, I don’t think he can,” said Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” 

Lee, who has refused to endorse Trump, added that the only way for Trump to have a “lasting legacy” is to step aside and make way for a new nominee.  

“We cannot win this election without Donald Trump supporters, but we also can’t win this election at the top of the ballot, and many cases the bottom of the ballot, with Mr. Trump,” Lee said. 

While some allies, like Ben Carson and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), point to the timing of the leaked tapes as evidence of a Democratic smear campaign, Trump’s inner circle has been slow to come to his defense. 

Trump couldn’t even find backup from his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. 

In a statement Friday, Pence called Trump’s comments indefensible.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called off plans to campaign with Trump in Wisconsin and said Trump’s comments “sickened him.” Pence, who was then supposed to appear at the event in Trump’s stead, pulled out. 

Some, including Vice President Biden, say Trump’s comments display a cavalier attitude toward sexual assault.

“His statement trying to say, ‘Look, I regret those words’ — it’s not words. It really is talking about a pattern of sexual assault,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.), Hillary Clinton’s running mate. 

“I think the tape raises an awful lot of questions, and if you take that tape as Donald accurately describing his actions, then, yeah, that’s a pattern of assaultive behavior, and it’s much more than words.”  

Democrats are seizing on the latest controversy and pointing to proof of a pattern of sexism.

“You can draw a straight line between what Donald Trump said in 2005 and what he’s been saying every day on the campaign trail over the last year and a half. This is not a changed man,” Democratic National Committee interim Chairwoman Donna Brazile said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Without a strong defensive plan, Trump has hinted over the course of the weekend that he will go on the offense with former President Bill Clinton’s infidelities and accusations of sexual assault.

“I’ve said some foolish things, but there is a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women, and Hillary has bullied, attacked, intimidated and shamed his victims,” Trump said in the video posted to his Facebook page Friday. 

Giuliani on Sunday said Trump may question how Hillary Clinton handled the allegations as first lady to paint her as an “enabler.”

“I believe he will not bring up Bill Clinton’s personal life. I do believe there’s a possibility he’ll talk about Hillary Clinton’s situation, if it gets to that. I don’t think he prefers to do that,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” 

Tags Bill Clinton Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Mike Lee Mike Pence Paul Ryan Ted Cruz Tim Kaine

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