MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some Minnesota Republicans are distancing themselves from Donald Trump Monday.
In a recently leaked video from 2005, Trump describes women in vulgar terms, for which he apologized during last night’s highly anticipated presidential debate.
From the very first moments the debate was marked by tension and hostility, capping a weekend of controversy that is sending Minnesota Republicans running for the exits.
Trump denied in the debate what he said on tape — that he groped women without their consent.
“Certainly I’m not proud of it,” Trump said at the debate, “but this is locker-room talk.”
Congressman Erik Paulsen of Minnesota’s 3rd District is now refusing to vote for Trump after his “disgusting statements.”
Paulsen declined to be interviewed, but said this in a written statement:
“For months I have said Donald Trump has not earned my vote. The disgusting statements revealed last night make it clear he cannot. I will not be voting for him. Both of the major candidates for President are deeply flawed. Irrespective of who is elected President, it is clear that the country needs a strong co-equal branch of government. And Congress needs to hold the executive branch accountable,” Paulsen said. “ I have a solid record of working in a bipartisan way for the Third District and for Minnesota and I will continue to work across the aisle to get important things done.”
Former Governor Tim Pawlenty is calling Trump “uninformed, unhinged and unfit” to be President.
Pawlenty also issued this written statement:
“Although I’d hoped he could have risen to the occasion, it’s clear Trump is unwilling or unable to demonstrate even the most basic level of discipline, character and judgment necessary to lead our great nation,” said Pawlenty. “He is unsound, uninformed, unhinged and unfit to be President of the United States, and I am withdrawing my support for him.”House Speaker Kurt Daudt called on Trump to quit the race: “Consider what’s best for the future of our country and our party, and step aside so we can defeat Hillary Clinton.”
The contentious, nasty debate — which ran opposite a Sunday night NFL football game — drew 66 million viewers, fewer than the 84 million who watched the first debate. But the St. Louis town hall meeting caused a social media sensation.
Facebook reported a record 20 million users posting comments. Twitter set a record, too: 17 million tweets. Google’s top search was “voter registration,” reflecting unusual interest.
Despite the tumultuous developments, not all Minnesota Republicans are jumping ship. On MSNBC, Former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann suggested Hillary Clinton engineered the tape release, and minimized the remarks.
“This is bad boy talk,” Bachmann said. “If anyone understands bad boy talk, it’s Hillary Clinton.”
On WCCO’s Sunday night political show, a representative of Minnesota’s Trump campaign would not criticize Republicans who are deserting it.
“The leader that I still recognize when I was growing up was President Reagan,” Brian LeClair of the Minnesota Trump campaign said. “And he said that we would fulfill the 11th commandment, and not speak ill of fellow Republicans.”
Two top Republican candidates for Congress — Jason Lewis in the 2nd District and Stewart Mills in the 8th District — issued statements denouncing Trumps taped remarks, but they did not renounce Trump or say they wouldn’t vote for him.
Republicans in Minnesota and elsewhere are calling on Trump to quit the race, but Trump says that’s not going to happen.
Still, there’s a lot of anxiety: House Speaker Paul Ryan abandoned Trump Monday, telling his Republican House members he won’t campaign for, or defend, Trump any longer. That’s sparking fury from Republicans who say he’s conceding the election to Hillary Clinton.