Donald Trump bragged about trying to have sex with a married woman and being able to grope women in previously unaired footage from 2005 that surfaced on Friday.
Trump is heard discussing women in vulgar terms during off-camera banter during the taping of a segment for “Access Hollywood,” footage which was obtained by The Washington Post.
Trump dismissed the comments as “locker room banter” in a statement released by his campaign and sought to immediately deflect criticism onto the husband of his opponent Hillary Clinton.
The comments immediately raised the stakes for Sunday’s highly anticipated debate between Trump and Clinton. The Democratic nominee has spent months portraying Trump as demeaning toward women and the emergence of the remarks could hand her — and viewers in the town hall audience — more evidence to make that point.
The remarks prompted Trump — for the first time in his nearly 16-month campaign — to apologize.
“This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended,” Trump said in a statement released Friday.
Clinton’s campaign quickly condemned Trump over the remarks.
“This is horrific. We cannot allow this man to become president,” Clinton tweeted.
Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, campaigning in Las Vegas, said Trump’s comments “makes me sick to my stomach.”
“I don’t like to say the words that he’s used in the past when he calls women, ‘pigs, dogs and slobs’ … but this is behavior that’s just outrageous and so that there would be a news story that would have more statements like this of this kind, I mean, gosh, I’m sad to say that I’m not surprised,” Kaine said. “I should be surprised and shocked. I’m sad to say that I’m not.”
‘You can do anything’
“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait,” Trump says in the recording.
“And when you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”
“I did try and f**k her. She was married,” Trump says in one portion of the footage published by the Post.
Trump then goes on to say that “when you’re a star … you can do anything.”
“Grab them by the p**sy,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”
Reactions from GOP staffers and advisers to Trump ranged from astonished to apoplectic.
A close adviser to Trump told CNN the story is “flat out appalling” and at this point, they can’t even begin to guess whether Trump can come back from this.
“This should have never happened. I wish it had never happened. I think I know that men talk this way sometimes, but it’s nothing I would ever want to hear or condone or approve of,” the adviser said. “My reaction is — it’s appalling. It’s just flat out appalling.”
This adviser, who did not know that the Post story was coming, described the story as “pretty vulgar” and a part of a “barrage” of unflattering stories Trump has suffered from.
The adviser also said Trump’s apology does not go far enough.
“Doing anything other than to say it was a grievous error and he apologizes would be a mistake,” the adviser said. “I would take it a step further and own to the words as being offensive — not ‘if.'”
The adviser, clearly exasperated, added: “Another day in Trump world … I hate it.”
Asked about the reaction at a campaign field office, a Trump field staffer told CNN there were “gasps. Collective gasps. We’re trying to get our heads around it right now, but there’s no way to spin this. There just isn’t.”
The staffer, who is also paying close attention to Senate efforts, also added, unsolicited: “Just think of the down-ballot effect. Brutal.”
A GOP operative in Ohio voiced similar sentiments.
“This is bad. I think this thing is over,” the staffer said.
Asked how he would advise Trump, the staffer replied, “Might be too late. I would advise apologize. Then jump to all the things he’s done to promote women within Trump enterprises. But he likely won’t do it. Blame the messenger and/or media.”
Reached for comment, a top battleground state staffer told CNN he was “picking (his) chin off the floor.”
“We want every suburban woman’s vote in America. This doesn’t help with that,” the staffer said.