When historians look back to pinpoint the single most damaging moment to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign, yesterday’s leaked audio from 2005 will more than likely be in the running. Shortly after a damning-to-Hillary Wikileaks batch was dropped, revealing some “problematic” excerpts from the Democrat nominee’s Goldman Sachs speeches (among other revelations), audio of an extremely lewd conversation Trump had in 2005 was released. No doubt the timing was more than coincidental. The Washington Post (who released the audio) was likely sitting on it for weeks, waiting for the perfect time to release them.
While many understand that what Bill and Hillary Clinton have done is much worse than what Donald Trump has said, their crimes aren’t as easy to fit in a soundbite. Plus, with the media leaning predominantly left, you can bet there’s going to be 100 times more attention on these comments than any documents from the Wikileaks dump.
It’s a PR nightmare of epic proportions for Donald Trump and the GOP.
Quite predictably, a number of high-profile Republicans have been jumping ship following the leaked comments.
— Mark Kirk (@SenatorKirk) October 8, 2016
Donald Trump's statements are beyond offensive & despicable. While I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton, I will not vote for Trump. #utpol
— Gary R. Herbert (@HerbertForUtah) October 8, 2016
Every wife, mother, daughter — every person — deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. https://t.co/AVSEBastVc
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) October 8, 2016
House Speaker Paul Ryan called off plans to campaign with Trump following the comments, but didn’t withdraw support. Mitt Romney and Jeb! Bush also denounced the comments, though it’s not like either of them were voting for Trump in the first place.
Some anonymous sources allegedly close to the Trump camp last night claimed that Pence and his team were livid.
A source close to Trump camp told me Pence and his team are “absolutely apoplectic,” "melting down” and "inconsolable.”
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) October 8, 2016
This afternoon, Gov. Pence scrapped plans to fill in for Trump at an event, and issued his official response.
My statement below: pic.twitter.com/92VYEAxIcl
— Mike Pence (@mike_pence) October 8, 2016
“As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump in the eleven-year-old video released yesterday,” Pence said in a written statement. “I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them. I am grateful that he has expressed remorse and apologized to the American people. We pray for his family and look forward to the opportunity he has to show what is in his heart when he goes before the nation tomorrow night.”
Trump himself also issued an apology for the comments — a rarity that shows even he realizes how serious this is.
What are the next steps forward? Trump’s comments will likely continue to damage him in the polls. It is possible for the two to flip the ticket, and most GOP insiders seem to think that Pence would beat Hillary in a head to head. If that happened it would be a first — but, then again, it’s not like this election cycle has been even remotely normal…
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]