Republican nominee Donald Trump once predicted he could shoot someone in plain sight and not lose voters. It seems he likely wouldn't lose the support or endorsements of senior GOP members, either. While party leaders have said they're "sickened" by the "repugnant," "unacceptable" sexual remarks Trump made about women in a 2005 tape recently obtained by the Washington Post, many have still opted to stand behind Trump. Yet speaking out isn't enough. As a voter and as a woman, I don't care how outraged GOP leaders want to say they are; in not dumping Trump as their candidate, they're endorsing his sexist, misogynistic attitude as a party line.
Perhaps my biggest issue with this situation is that there have been plenty of opportunities for the GOP to distance themselves from Trump's hateful rhetoric before this incident. It's not like Trump has been particularly sneaky about who he is or how he thinks. As shocking as it is to hear a presidential candidate brag that their "star" power entitles them to sexually harass and assault women by grabbing "them by the p---y," we shouldn't be surprised Trump feels this way. He's made it known he believes himself to be beyond consequence and reproach before.
Remember when Trump declared in January, "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters"? That wasn't just Trump touting his popularity in the election. Even his latest tweet makes it seem like he knows there will be little consequence from the political party he's attached himself to.
Yet, while many senior level Republican Party members have been quick to rebuke Trump in light of his demeaning and sexually explicit remarks to former Access Hollywood correspondent Billy Bush, they've made no move to drop their support.
House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled Trump from a campaign event they were both scheduled to appear at on Saturday and said he was "sickened" by what he heard on the tape. Yet, he continues to endorse Trump as a presidential candidate. RNC Chair Reince Priebus said "no woman should ever be described in these terms" but made no move to retract the Republican Party's support of Trump.
Sen. Majority Mitch McConnell called on Trump to apologize for his "repugnant and unacceptable" comments but refrained from going so far as to pull his endorsement. Sen. John McCain (who you'd really think would be completely fed up with Trump at this point) claimed "there are no excuses for Donald Trump’s offensive and demeaning comment" and that Trump alone "should suffer the consequences." Except those consequences don't include McCain pulling back his support. Sen. Ted Cruz, whose endorsement of Trump came late in the game, tweeted Friday that the GOP nominee's comments were "disturbing and inappropriate," adding "every wife, mother, daughter -- every person -- deserves to be treated with dignity and respect." Too bad the candidate Cruz continues to endorse doesn't seem to share that belief.
It should be said that a few members of the Republican Party have actually retracted their endorsements of Trump in light of his 2005 remarks. These include Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who has once called Trump a role model, has said that she will no longer vote for him. A few other GOP members — who had either already pulled their endorsements of Trump or never supported his candidacy to begin with — have called on the real estate mogul to drop out or step aside, something Trump said Saturday he'd never do.
I suppose for many in the GOP, the problem is timing. Voting has already begun, meaning ballots have, in all likelihood, already been cast for Trump. Further complicating a Trump dump is the fact that the deadline for getting a candidate on the ballot has already passed in multiple states considered key to a candidate's win. It's not clear if the Republican Party even could successfully replace Trump at this time.
However, in standing by their man, GOP leaders have chosen not to stand with American women. Public statements of outrage ring hollow when they're spoken from behind a man who offers a dismissive apology if you're offended after he's caught boasting about being able to kiss and grab women as he pleases because he's a celebrity. The GOP's condemnations of behavior the majority of voters will undoubtedly find appalling are tepid at best and serve only to perpetuate Trump's harmful and degrading attitude toward women when paired with members' continued endorsements. It's a conflicting message that reflects poorly on the Republican Party as a whole.