Growing List Of Republicans Call For Trump To Drop Out | WYPR

Growing List Of Republicans Call For Trump To Drop Out

Oct 8, 2016
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're exactly one month away from the election, and the big story out of politics today is about something that happened 11 years ago.

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

MARTIN: That's Donald Trump in 2005 boasting to then Access Hollywood host Billy Bush while the two were getting ready to tape a segment. It was obtained by The Washington Post and released last night. Trump goes on to use graphic language to describe groping women and trying to pressure a married woman into having sex with him while he was himself newly married to his third wife. He released a statement on video at midnight apologizing for his remarks.

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TRUMP: Anyone who knows me, knows these words don't reflect who I am. I said it. I was wrong, and I apologize.

MARTIN: But he then went on to attack former President Bill Clinton as he had earlier in the day in a written statement and delivered what sounded like a threat to address the former president's indiscretions in front of Hillary Clinton at the debate tomorrow night.

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TRUMP: We will discuss this more in the coming days. See you at the debate on Sunday.

MARTIN: We're joined now by NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Hi, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Michel.

MARTIN: So just last week, we were talking about Donald Trump's comments about women because it came up in the first debate. But this latest revelation seems to be having a real impact in a way that past comments did not. We've seen people pulling endorsements, for example. Why do you think that is?

LIASSON: It's really interesting because these comments are different in degree but not kind. We have heard Donald Trump say denigrating, demeaning, offensive comments about women and other minority groups for months and months and months, but this time, he boasted about sexual assault. He talked about grabbing women by their genitals. And it seems this is a tipping point. Somehow or other, this one got Republicans really panicked.

MARTIN: So talk more about the range of reactions among Republicans.

LIASSON: Well, the interesting thing to me is we've been keeping a running count of how many Republicans have called on him to leave the race - not just condemned him because they've been doing that all along. We're up to about two dozen. And the most important ones on our list are Republican candidates - Senate candidates in battleground states. So Joe Heck in Nevada and Darryl Glenn in Colorado have both called on him to step down. So has Mark Kirk in Illinois, but Mark Kirk never endorsed him in the first place.

Most other Republicans have either gone to ground, or they've condemned his remarks but not unendorsed. Paul Ryan, for instance, said he was sickened, but he's still supporting Trump. And I think the most interesting comment, the one that I think speaks for most Republicans' innermost feelings and fears is John McCain, who has withdrawn his support, but issued a statement saying quote, "Trump alone should suffer the consequences." That is what Republicans really hope.

MARTIN: Now, we know that there are Republicans who are calling Donald Trump to step aside. Like, for example, Carly Fiorina, former candidate, said that he should step aside. But is that even possible at this stage?

LIASSON: It's very unclear if it's possible. GOP election attorney Ben Ginsberg was asked about this today on the NPR politics podcast. Here's what he had to say.

BEN GINSBERG: People in the Republican Party are understandably nervous about a number of things. And so, yes, there are certainly people who are looking for an escape hatch at the moment. The rules do not provide a ready-made escape hatch, nor do the ballot rules in the different states, nor do the Electoral College rules. So that while people are looking for an escape hatch, in a very real sense, this die was cast in Cleveland at the convention that didn't become the brokered convention we talked about.

LIASSON: The rules say that if a candidate is dead or incapacitated or voluntarily removes himself, yes, then they can put another candidate in his place. But so far, none of those criteria are in effect right now. And as a matter of fact, Donald Trump just tweeted (reading) the media and establishment want me out. I'll never drop out. I'll never let my supporters down.

So defiance is now his brand.

MARTIN: Obviously, there's an awful lot to talk about here, including the effect - the possible effect on other Republicans. But we have to ask you about the other political controversy of the weekend - the WikiLeaks release of what they claim are emails from the Clinton campaign. What's in there? And what kind of effect do you think that's going to have?

LIASSON: Well, the alleged excerpts of her Wall Street speeches are what's in there. I think they are damaging to her. She does acknowledge that she's economically out of touch with middle-class people. She talks about her dream of having a hemispheric common market with open trade and open borders. And she talks about how it's good to have both public and private positions on issues when you're negotiating things. So probably those are some of the things she'll be asked about tomorrow night in the debate.

MARTIN: That's NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Mara, thanks so much.

LIASSON: Thank you.

MARTIN: Please stay with us. We're going to talk more about this in the Barbershop. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.