Trump: ‘Zero chance I’ll quit’ in wake of tape release

Posted at 3:58 PM, Oct 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-08 23:39:29-04

New York (CNN/WXMI) — Donald Trump on Saturday vowed to "never" drop out of the presidential race as a growing chorus of Republicans urged him to do exactly that after sexually aggressive remarks he made in 2005 surfaced a day earlier.

Trump's defiance came as his own running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, said he was "offended" by Trump's remarks and canceled plans to represent him at a political event on Saturday. Meanwhile, the third-most powerful Senate Republican, John Thune, a member of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's inner circle, called on Trump to "withdraw" and let Pence top the Republican ticket just a month from Election Day.

Even Trump's wife, Melania Trump, condemned the remarks, saying in a statement released by Trump's campaign, "The words my husband used are unacceptable and offensive to me.

"This does not represent the man that I know," she added. "He has the heart and mind of a leader. I hope people will accept his apology, as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world."

Donald Trump, however, was unwavering.

"I'd never withdraw. I've never withdrawn in my life," Trump told The Washington Post Saturday morning. "No, I'm not quitting. I have tremendous support."
He also told The Wall Street Journal there is "zero chance I'll quit."

The comments suggested that Trump was eager to fully turn away from the lewd and sexually aggressive terms he used to describe women in the 2005 conversation and instead pivot toward his political opponents, whoever they may be.

"They're not going to make me quit, and they can't make me quit," Trump told the Post.

He later tweeted, "The media and establishment want me out of the race so badly - I WILL NEVER DROP OUT OF THE RACE, WILL NEVER LET MY SUPPORTERS DOWN! #MAGA"

The interviews took place less than 24 hours after previously unaired footage surfaced of Trump bragging about being able to grope women and trying to have sex with a married woman during a 2005 taping for "Access Hollywood."

In that timespan, Republicans have quickly condemned Trump for the comment many of them have deemed "inexcusable" and "indefensible," prompting Trump to issue his first-ever apology of his nearly 16-month campaign.

But Trump also signaled a willingness to fight in the 90-second video statement he posted online just after midnight on Saturday, quickly turning from apologizing to attacking Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for her husband's sex scandals.

But the apology did not quell the firestorm.

Several Republicans, including Sens. Mike Crapo of Idaho and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, formally pulled their support of Trump on Saturday morning.

And the Republican National Committee put a temporary pause on its mail operations that are part of the committee's victory operation in terms of messaging to assess the current situation and decide if they need to change their message on mailings and other get out the vote operations, a top RNC official told CNN.

Michigan GOP leaders react, condemn

Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel issued the following statement Saturday in reponse to Trump’s comments:

As a woman, as the mother of a 13-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son, and as a Republican, I find Mr. Trump's comments reprehensible and disgusting. Mr. Trump has apologized for the comments he made 11 years ago, but needs to do so again and again if he hopes to gain back any semblance of public trust.

I am confident that Michiganders know that Donald Trump’s comments represent only himself, and other Republicans do not share his views. Donald Trump's comments are his alone to own and I cannot and will not defend them.

Michigan's Republican Lt. Gov Brian Calley tweeted the following Saturday, but did not specifically name Trump:

Unacceptable and inexcusable. No person should ever be talked about, much less treated, in this manner.

Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette also tweeted a response to Trump's comments, saying this:

Women should be treated with respect and dignity, period. Comments about women as objects or conquests are simply unacceptable.

Schuette did not say whether he still intended to endorse Trump. But in a statement released to the Detroit News, Calley did renounce his support saying  "the latest revelations about Donald Trump and his past make it impossible for me to maintain support of him."

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph called on Trump to step out of the race:

These degrading and dangerous comments are utterly indefensible. I chose early on not to endorse due to his previous off track comments, and this only confirms that decision. It’s a new low. It’s outrageous. As a husband and father, I feel angry and sickened. Those running for the office of the president are rightfully held to a higher standard.

These latest transgressions are so grave. I urge him to think about our country over his own candidacy and carefully consider stepping aside from the ticket.

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade, who has long been vocal of his opposition to the GOP nominee tweeted the following:

Character matters. Donald Trump has been saying outrageous, offensive things the whole time. He should have stepped aside long ago. As I've said all along, I'm not voting for Trump (or Hillary Clinton). It's time for self-reflection from Trump and GOP leaders.

Amanda Van Essen Wirth, chairwoman of the Ottawa County Republican Party, said Trump's comments do not reflect the party in a statement released to FOX 17 on Saturday:

Candidate Trump's statements are offensive to me, not only as Chairwoman of the Ottawa County Republican Party, but also as a young, female professional. His polarizing rhetoric misrepresents the composition of our party, which includes women, minorities and membership of diverse backgrounds.

I am concerned that young, conservative women will not turn out to vote, or will not vote in the presidential race as a result of his comments. The reality is that, in my personal and professional experience, the most gender blind experiences I've had have been working with our local, state and congressional conservative leadership. Candidate Trump's comments are his alone and do not reflect our party or the men who I have worked with that are members of our party.

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland did not renounce his support for the GOP nominee, but did condemn Trump's comments:

Donald Trump's recently unearthed comments are disgusting and indefensible. Mr. Trump has said he has dramatically changed his life since making these comments over a decade ago, and I am hoping and praying that is the case.

Pence 'cannot defend' remarks

And after a campaign source told CNN that Pence decided not to attend the Wisconsin political event hosted by House Speaker Paul Ryan, Pence released a statement explaining that he was "offended" by Trump's remarks. He also noted he is looking "forward to the opportunity he has to show what is in his heart" at the debate on Sunday.

"As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump in the 11-year-old video released yesterday," Pence said. "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."

"Wisconsin is off" for Pence, a campaign source told CNN earlier Saturday, adding that the decision was made this morning.

The source gave no reason for the cancellation, but the Trump campaign had announced Friday evening that Pence would attend the event in Trump's stead after Ryan said he was "sickened" by Trump's comments and announced Trump would no longer attend the event.

Multiple sources told CNN that Trump was asked not to come by Ryan, and one source said the message was delivered via intermediaries.

Trump and Pence spoke Saturday morning, according to a source familiar with the conversation who did not provide further details.

While the real estate magnate was slated to spend Saturday focusing on debate prep, Trump instead spent Saturday morning boldly countering the growing calls for him to drop out of the presidential race, with some Republicans suggesting Trump should step aside and allow Pence to top the Republican ticket. With just one month to Election Day and as early voting has already begun in some states, replacing the Republican nominee would be a near-impossible task.

Ready to fight back

Trump indicated he will head into the debate prepared to fight Clinton by raising the marital infidelities of her husband former President Bill Clinton -- a shift since Trump said as recently as Thursday night he would not raise the issue in Sunday's debate.
12 times Trump declared his 'respect' for women

And Trump argued to the Post that he will be able to weather the comments that have come back to haunt him in part because Clinton, the Democratic nominee, is "so bad" and "so flawed as a candidate."

"Running against her, I can't say it'd be the same if I ran against someone else, but running against her makes it a lot easier, that's for sure," Trump said in the Saturday morning interview.

Trump also told both the Post and the Journal that he is considering delivering remarks Saturday evening to encourage his supporters and address the controversy.

And he also said of the 2005 comments that "people get it. They get life."

Pressed a final time by the Post about the possibility he could quit the race, Trump firmly shut the door on that option.

"Zero chance. I've never quit in my life," Trump said. "I can give you my word that I'm never leaving."

CNN's Elizabeth Landers, Manu Raju, Mark Preston and Dana Bash and FOX 17s Rebecca Russell contributed to this report.