I don’t even wait,' he said — and bragged about how he would 'grab them by the p---y.'
Under fire for lewd comments about groping women, Donald Trump released a video statement shortly after midnight Saturday in a bid to save his candidacy, apologizing and pledging to be a "better man."
“I've said and done things I regret," Trump said. "Anyone who knows me knows these words don't reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.”
Trump’s campaign was sent reeling on Friday after a private tape was published in which the reality TV star bragged about groping, kissing and attempting to have sex with married women — and said he was entitled to do so because he’s a “star.”
The comments threaten to envelop, if not torpedo, his candidacy just days before his second presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, as top Republicans from across the nation condemned him in the sharpest possible terms.
“I don’t even wait,” he boasts in the tape, as he talks about groping at women’s genitals.
“And when you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump says to Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” in a clip from 2005 that was first published by the Washington Post late on Friday. “You can do anything.”
“Whatever you want,” an off-camera voice that appears to be Bush replies.
“Grab them by the pussy,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”
The audio represents an extraordinary level of vulgarity — Democrats quickly condemned Trump for casually joking about sexual assault — even for a candidate who seized the Republican nomination through his proud embrace of political incorrectness.
“This is horrific,” Hillary Clinton said on Twitter. “We cannot allow this man to become president.”
In his midnight apology, the celebrity showman candidate tried to go on the attack previewing what could be one of the ugliest political episodes yet in 2016. “Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims,” Trump said.
“We will discuss this more in the coming days,” Trump said. “See you at the debate on Sunday.”
Earlier on Friday, Trump had reacted quickly and defensively, offering only a non-apology — “I apologize if anyone was offended.” Then too he had tried to shift the focus elsewhere. “This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course — not even close,” Trump claimed.
The blowback from Republicans was delayed, but when it emerged, it was harsh.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who had been scheduled to appear alongside Trump on Saturday for the first time in Wisconsin, condemned Trump in a statement late Friday.
“I am sickened by what I heard today. Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified," Ryan said. "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. In the meantime, he is no longer attending tomorrow's event in Wisconsin.”
Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Trump must apologize for his “repugnant” comments.”
Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz withdrew his endorsement of Trump on Friday night, one of the most concrete signs so far that Trump’s support is crumbling.
“I’m out. I can no longer in good conscience endorse this person for president. It is some of the most abhorrent and offensive comments that you can possibly imagine,” Chaffetz told Utah’s Fox 13 News.
Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee issued a curt statement: “No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever.”
Other conservatives went further. Rob Engstrom, the Chamber of Commerce’s national political director, on Friday night called on Trump to drop out of the race and allow his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, to assume the top of the ticket.
“Trump should step down immediately tonight, yielding to Governor Pence as the GOP Nominee,” Engstrom tweeted.
But Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who still serves as a surrogate for the nominee, defended his ex-boss to CNN. "We're electing a leader for the free world, not a Sunday schoolteacher," he said.
The hot mic episode broke just over 48 hours before the next presidential debate and immediately sent political shockwaves across the nation.
In Ohio, the reporters covering Pence at a restaurant were immediately instructed to return to the press bus after the news broke and were not permitted to film him leaving the restaurant. Pence’s team insisted that was normal procedure.
In Las Vegas, Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, said the tape “makes me sick to my stomach.”
“I’m sad to say that I’m not surprised,” Kaine added.
Prominent Republicans went dark in the first hours after the tape leaks. “I won’t defend that!” texted one prominent Republican woman who has endorsed Trump. “I am so sad.”
In the tape, Trump, who was only recently married to Melania Trump at the time, says of an unknown woman, “I moved on her and I failed. I’ll admit it.”
“I did try and fuck her,” Trump added. “She was married.”
He said he moved on the woman “very heavily,” even taking her furniture shopping. “
I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married,” Trump says. “Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.”
MARCA POLITICA has decided to publish the full quotes from the Trump tape, without redaction, due to the extraordinary nature of the comments.
Trump has often bragged about his prowess with women. In his 1997 book The Art of the Comeback, he wrote: "If I told the real stories of my experiences with women, often seemingly very happily married and important women, this book would be a guaranteed best-seller."
Trump’s history with women has been an issue since the early days of the campaign. At the very first Republican primary debate, Fox News’s Megyn Kelly said to Trump, “You've called women you don't like ‘fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals,’” before asking, “How will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?”
Trump replied: “I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct.”
While Trump has weathered numerous other controversies, including his own past taped remarks commenting on women’s appearances that Clinton has aired in heavy rotation in battleground states, some top Democrats said the new tape — and its description of grabbing at women against their will because Trump is a “star” — had crossed a line.
"Game over,” said former Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor. “He is discussing sexual assault.”
“It's horrifying, disgusting, and on a whole other level than any of his previous comments,” said Democratic strategist Lis Smith. “This isn't him just being sexist. This is him bragging about committing sexual assault.”
Republican New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who earlier this week backtracked after suggesting that Trump is a “role model,” on Friday said the billionaire’s newly exposed comments about women are “totally inappropriate and offensive.”
Former presidential candidate Jeb Bush tweeted, “As the grandfather of two precious girls, I find that no apology can excuse away Donald Trump's reprehensible comments degrading women.”
Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, added on Twitter, “Hitting on married women? Condoning assault? Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America's face to the world.”
According to “Access Hollywood,” the tape was discovered in its archives after the show’s staff read an Associated Press story about Trump’s treatment of women on his NBC reality show “The Apprentice.” But the Post obtained the recording on its own, and published it at around 4 p.m. on Friday, before the entertainment program was able to air its own version.
Within minutes of the tape’s release, in what appeared to be a strategic counterstrike, WikiLeaks dumped more than 2,000 emails it claimed were hacked from top Clinton adviser John Podesta’s personal email account, and said they were only the first of 50,000.
One message exchange appears to include Clinton’s advisers highlighting the potentially most damaging portions of her paid speeches, including those before Wall Street audiences.
The leaked tape caps a disastrous two weeks for Trump since the first presidential debate. He stumbled on stage at Hofstra University — he complained about his microphone and floated a conspiracy theory that he had been sabotaged — and then spent the days after the debate embroiled in a back-and-forth over his two-decade ago campaign to shame a former beauty pageant winner over her weight.
He later tweeted that the woman, Alicia Machado, was “disgusting” and falsely accused her of being in a pornographic film. “Check out sex tape,” he wrote.
Adding to Trump’s woes with women, a former reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer revealed that Trump had called her the c-word.
Later, the New York Times published portions of his 1995 taxes, revealing that Trump declared a loss of more than $900 million that could have shielded him from paying income taxes for nearly 20 years. Trump is the first major presidential candidate in decades to refuse to release any of his tax returns for public scrutiny.
Trump has steadily lost ground in the polls since, with Clinton’s lead in the Real Clear Politics polling average roughly doubling since the first debate, from 2.3 percentage points to 4.5 points on Friday.
In the midnight tape, Trump tried to course correct: “I've never said I'm a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I'm not. I've said and done things I regret. And the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them.”
But the latest revelations could damage irrevocably Trump’s attempts to win over female voters.
Republican pollster Christine Matthews, who specializes in helping Republicans reach out to women, said that “this is just another nail in the coffin.”
“The women who are still entertaining the possibility of Donald Trump, what they’re waiting for is the possibility that he tones it down,” Matthews said. “…It is not presidential. It is not toning it down.”
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