Current and past Republican politicians are calling on Donald Trump to step down as the party's presidential nominee in light of vulgar comments the reality star-businessman made about women.
In a 2005 conversation with Access Hollywood host Billy Bush, Trump declared he could "grab women by the pussy" because he was famous.
On Friday, onetime Utah governor and GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman said Trump should drop out of the race and let Governor Mike Pence, his running mate, assume the party's nomination.
“In a campaign cycle that has been nothing but a race to the bottom—at such a critical moment for our nation—and with so many who have tried to be respectful of a record primary vote, the time has come for Governor Pence to lead the ticket,” Huntsman told The Salt Lake Tribune.
As recent as last week, Huntsman insisted he was voting for Trump despite disagreeing with him on a number of issues.
Huntsman is not alone in his call for Pence to assume the top spot in the ticket: Former New York governor George Pataki, who also ran for president, condemned Trump’s “poisonous mix of bigotry [and] ignorance” and called on him to step down.
Even Republican politicians in tough races are risking party support by calling for Trump to bow out: Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois has called on the GOP to engage the rules for emergency replacement, and Rep. Mike Coffman, facing a tight race in Colorado, says Trump needs to step aside for “the good of the country.”
GOP strategist Ana Navarro, who has been brutal in her condemnation of Trump, added, “he is not fit to be called a man.”
Trump issued a statement on Friday claiming "I’ve never said I’m a perfect person... I said it, it was wrong, and I apologize."
But he also downplayed the incident, calling it "locker room banter."
"This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we are facing today," he added. "I’ve said some foolish things, but there is a big difference between words and actions. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims."