Portman Joins GOP Defectors: Cannot Vote for Trump

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Republicans U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and John Kasich came out against their party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump on the eve of tonight’s debate with Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The top two Ohio Republicans joined dozens of GOP leaders who abandoned their party’s presidential nominee following the release of a 2005 videotape in which Trump made lewd comments about women, both announcing they will not vote for Trump.

In the video, Trump talked about being able to impose himself on women because of his celebrity, including kissing them and being able to grope them, and shared his attempt to seduce a married woman.

In a brief interview with the Washington Post, Trump said he would not withdraw from the presidential race. During a video statement Saturday, he apologized for his remarks and characterized the resurrection of the 11-year-old tape as a distraction.

“I’ve said things I regret and the words released today on this more than a decade old video are one of them,” Trump said. “Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it. I was wrong and I apologize.”

Melania Trump also issued a statement Saturday criticizing her husband’s comments but also supporting him.

“The words my husband used are unacceptable and offense to me.” She remarked.

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

Kasich, who less than a week earlier in Liberty Township tried to avoid saying anything about his onetime rival for the GOP nomination and had declined to endorse him to date, issued a statement Saturday afternoon calling Trump a man he “cannot and should not support.” He also said he would not vote “for a nominee who has behaved in a manner that reflects so poorly on our country.”

The governor said he based his decision on “an accumulation of his words and actions that many have been warning about,” he said.

“Nothing that has happened in the last 48 hours is surprising to me or many others. Many people were angry and questioned why I would not endorse Donald Trump or attend the Republican Convention,” Kasich said. His concerns about Trump extended beyond the nominee’s temperament to “substantive policy differences” on issues including trade, relations with Russia and the importance of balancing the federal budget, he continued.

“I’ve held out hope that he would change on these disqualifying policy positions, but he has not. I’ve also encouraged him to change his behavior for the better and offer a positive, inclusive vision for our country, but he has not,” Kasich said. “It’s clear that he hasn’t changed and has no interest in doing so.”

Portman announced later Saturday that he was withdrawing his support for Trump and would vote for Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, for president.

“As I said [Friday], Donald Trump’s comments were offensive and wrong,” Portman said. “I had hoped to support the candidate my party nominated in the primary process. I thought it was appropriate to respect the millions of voters across the country who chose Donald Trump as the Republican Party nominee. While I continue to respect those who still support Donald Trump, I can no longer support him.”

Portman’s Democratic challenger in his bid for re-election, former Gov. Ted Strickland, had earlier in the day criticized Portman for not rescinding his support from Trump. “Rob Portman should be ashamed for continuing to endorse a sexual predator for president of the United States,” he said in a fundraising email Saturday afternoon.

In the solicitation, Strickland said the video showed “the real Donald Trump,” described him as “a sexually vulgar, predatory little man revealing the deeply disturbing way he treats women when he thinks no one is listening.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6, Ohio, posted a short statement on his Facebook page. “As a husband, father of two daughters, and grandfather to four wonderful little girls I find Donald Trump’s comments offensive and highly inappropriate,” he said. “I’m glad he apologized. That said, Americans are still waiting for Hillary Clinton to apologize for her many lies, and legal and ethical scandals.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, also weighed in Saturday on the Trump video that, he said, contained “aggressive, arrogant and demeaning statements [that] should never be uttered by anyone,” let alone a presidential candidate. Ryan called on those who endorsed Trump to rescind those endorsements and for Trump to withdraw as the GOP nominee.

“Over the course of this election I thought we had already seen the lowest of the low, but this takes it to a level that I never thought possible,” he remarked. “This shows us more about who Donald Trump is as a human being and how he views women as objects to be taken advantage of. Our nation’s wives, mothers and daughters, including the women in my family, deserve better.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.