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Home / Election 2016 / Republicans struggle to defend Donald Trump following lewd comments

Republicans struggle to defend Donald Trump following lewd comments

Donald Trump reponds to a question during Fox News' 2016 GOP primary presidential debate on Aug. 6. (AP photo/Andrew Harnik)

Donald Trump reponds to a question during Fox News’ 2016 GOP primary presidential debate on Aug. 6. (AP photo/Andrew Harnik)

One Republican quoted Jesus’s admonition against casting the first stone.

Another suggested that rap music is as bad or worse.

Some are repulsed, but are nonetheless digging in.

Some said it happened a decade ago, and, by the way, he’s already asked for forgiveness.

Others argued that Bill Clinton was accused of far worse things, while Hillary Clinton disparaged her husband’s accusers.

The Republican Party is reeling from the fallout of a 2005 video of presidential candidate Donald J. Trump, in which he bragged about groping women and kissing them without waiting for permission. Critics say Trump was doing no less than boasting of being able to sexually assault women.

Republicans’ defense of Trump’s lewd comments falls under several categories. First, they note that his comments were made more than a decade ago. Second, they minimize the remarks by saying it’s “locker room talk.” Third, they point to accusations of sexual misconduct against Bill Clinton, even though Hillary Clinton is the one running for president.

Treasurer Jeff DeWit, one of Trump’s most prolific and prominent surrogates in Arizona, didn’t return calls from the Arizona Capitol Times, but defended Trump on the radio by touching on the points above and saying the GOP nominee has apologized.

KTAR host Bruce St. James noted that this is only the latest in Trump’s demeaning remarks toward women, and pressed DeWit: “Would it be OK for someone to talk about your wife or your three daughters that way? Would that be language that would be OK as long as they said ‘I’m sorry’ afterwards?”

DeWit, the Trump campaign’s chief operating officer, replied that people have to remember that Trump was in the entertainment business for a long time.

“There’s only so much you can do when an 11-year-old tape surfaces that has what you thought was a private conversation. It’s not like he was out saying this to groups of people. He thought he was having a private conversation,” DeWit said.

He also tried to minimize Trump’s lewd comments by comparing them to rap. “You can flip over right now to a rap station. You can hear a lot of language and things that is as bad or worse than that.” To which KTAR host Pamela Hughes interjected: “Well, hip hop artists aren’t running for president of the United States.”

AZGOP Chairman Robert Graham was sharply critical of Trump’s remarks but is standing by his party’s nominee.

In a statement released by the AZGOP, Graham quoted Jesus’s admonishment against “casting the first stone.”

“In the end, I will not condemn or abandon a man that has every right to forgiveness as I do,” Graham said.

In the same statement, Graham called Clinton an “enemy to our nation’s security, general welfare and blessings of liberty.” He said Clinton, if elected president, would “systematically condemn our freedoms.”

Earlier, referring to Trump, Graham said nobody “in their right mind would condone comments like that… They’re shocking to say the least.”

But while Trump’s lewd comments aren’t inexcusable, they happened in 2005, he said, adding that people learn from experience and 11 years is a long time.

“People mature professionally, politically, however,” he said, noting that Trump, since the primary election, has been “more substantive” and his tone is “way different.”

Trump was already 59 years old when he made the controversial remarks.

Graham also noted where Trump was professionally at the time he made the remarks. Back then, he said, Trump was a celebrity and “kind of a shock jock reality show guy.”

Graham said people are making it seem as if he said them just a few days ago, and that smacks of a double standard.

“There’s an incredible, huge double standard as it relates to the way that Donald Trump has been handled by the media and the progressive left, and the way Hillary Clinton and the Clintons have been handled through their last 30 years as career politicians,” he said.

He also repeated one argument Trump’s supporters have been making: Bill Clinton is worse because he had an affair with Monica Lewinsky, then a young White House intern and lied about it. “We were condemned if you didn’t forgive him and move past it,” he said.

Gov. Doug Ducey repudiated Trump’s comments, but stopped short of saying he was withdrawing his support.

But Ducey’s predecessor, Jan Brewer, had no misgivings about continuing her support for Trump.

Brewer, an early endorser and frequent Trump surrogate, posted on Facebook over the weekend that she was “repulsed” by Trump’s “detestable language.”

But Trump “did the right thing by taking ownership of his words and apologizing,” and Brewer said she’s still fully committed to the nominee and that withdrawing her support would be the wrong thing for the country.

“There is too much at stake if we elect Hillary Clinton. The future of our Supreme Court, our country’s national security, securing our border, improving our economy and bringing back jobs to America,” she wrote. “Hillary Clinton – the consummate politician – cannot be trusted. I continue to support Donald Trump for president. It’s the right thing to do for our country.”

Senate President Andy Biggs also minimized Trump’s demeaning remarks by saying they’re a decade old.

“I’m hoping everybody grows up over a period of 12 years,” he said.

Rep. Phil Lovas, who is the Trump campaign’s Arizona chairman, said Trump already apologized.

“He said he was embarrassed by it. And I take him at his word on that,” Lovas he said. “People make mistakes. We’re all human. We err. And if somebody is sincere, we forgive. And in this case, I certainly believe that he was sincere based on the apologies he has given.”

But Lovas refused to comment on whether the actions that Trump described in the now-infamous tape were just “locker room talk,” as Trump has said, or if they were a man boasting of committing sexual assault.

“I’m not going to get into the finer points of this, other than to say he’s apologized about it. It wasn’t like Bill Clinton, who was acting on things back in the ‘90s. These were his words and he’s apologized for his words,” Lovas said.

Capitol Times reporters Jeremy Duda and Hank Stephenson contributed to this report. 

 

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