Growing chorus of Republican leaders call for Trump to drop out, but Trump refuses to quit
A surge of high-profile Republican leaders called for presidential nominee Donald Trump to drop out of the race on Saturday following the leak of a video in which the billionaire businessman makes lewd comments about harassing women.
U.S. Senator John Thune of South Dakota called for Trump's running mate to be placed at the top of the GOP ticket following Trump's latest controversial comments.
"Donald Trump should withdraw and Mike Pence should be our nominee effective immediately," said Thune.
Illinois Republican Senator. Mark Kirk was one of the first members of party to rebuke Trump after the audio was released, saying on Friday that Trump "should drop out." He also urged the Republican National Committee to enact "rules for an emergency replacement" and called Trump a "malignant clown," saying the GOP nominee is "unprepared and unfit to be president of the United States."
Kirk's sentiments have been backed up by multiple Republican leaders, some also calling for an unprecedented withdrawal of a presidential candidate.
Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire joined the list of big name Republicans withdrawing their support from the nominee, saying that while she feels strongly that a "change in direction" is needed she "cannot and will not support a candidate for president who brags about degrading and assaulting women."
More than a dozen GOP lawmakers have withdrawn their support, with a handful specifically calling for Pence to replace Trump at the top of the ticket.
Trump stated he has no plans to drop out of the race, telling the Washington Post on Saturday, "I'd never withdraw. I've never withdrawn in my life."
The billionaire businessman did however release a video on Facebook apologizing for the 11-year-old comments, admitting he was "wrong" and saying "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."
Trump also went after his rival, claiming "Bill Clinton has actually abused women, and Hillary Clinton has bullied, attacked, shamed, and intimidated his victims."
Trump was dropped from an event scheduled for Saturday with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan after the tape showed Trump making explicit comments regarding his previous sexual advances towards women. Ryan said he was "sickened" by the comments adding that "women are to be championed and revered, not objectified."
Pence was originally set to appear in Trump's place at the event, but withdrew from the appearance. The vice presidential nominee released a statement saying he was "offended" by Trump's words, stating "I do not condone his remarks" and "cannot defend them."
Not all of Trump's support has been lost, as Ben Carson, former Republican presidential candidate and prominent surrogate is reportedly planning to stand "firmly" with the GOP nomniee through the conclusion of the election.
However, Utah Sen. Mike Lee, a man Trump placed on his list of possible Supreme Court nominees, also came out against Trump in a video posted to Facebook Friday night saying "I wouldn't hire that person, wouldn't want to be associated with that person. I certainly don't think I would comfortable hiring that person to be the leader of the free world.
"I respectfully ask you, with all due respect, to step aside. Step down, allow someone else to carry the banner of these principles... rather than weighing down the American people."
Trump's next major test will come Sunday night when he faces off with Hillary Clinton for the second presidential debate. In Trump's apology video posted to Facebook he hinted at attacking Clinton for intimidating Bill Clinton's "victims," adding "we will discuss this more in the coming days. See you at the debate on Sunday."
BY: WILLIAM STEAKIN