An increasing number of GOP leaders are calling for Donald Trump to step aside as their party’s presidential nominee, and some say Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, should take his place.
Trump has vehemently said he won’t drop out. But if he did so, some prominent Republicans said the 57-year-old Pence, who has served as a bridge between Trump and Republican establishment, would be well-suited to take his place. Other Republican lawmakers said they would write Pence in on their ballot.
Influential Republicans have been reaching out to Pence about what role he might be willing to play in the event Trump drops out, according to Bloomberg News.
Trump has been showered with bipartisan attacks since Friday, when an 11-year-old video surfaced in which he made vulgar and sexually charged comments about women.
Those calling for Trump to step aside included the No. 3 Senate Republican, John Thune of South Dakota; Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Mike Crapo of Idaho, and Dan Sullivan of Alaska; and Nevada representative and Senate candidate Joe Heck.
Thune tweeted Saturday that Pence should take the spot at the top of the Republican ticket "effective immediately."
Sasse urged Trump to “let Mike Pence try,” and Crapo said the party should “put forward a conservative candidate like Mike Pence who can defeat Hillary Clinton.”
South Dakota Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard tweeted Saturday that the election is "too important," and that Trump should withdraw in favor of Pence.
Even if the RNC could persuade Trump to drop out and exercise its authority to fill a vacancy on the ticket, a transition to a new candidate would be sure to be chaotic—in part because ballots already have been printed and early voting has begun in some states.
Trump declared Saturday that he would not yield the GOP nomination under any circumstances. "Zero chance I'll quit," he told The Wall Street Journal. He told The Washington Post: "I'd never withdraw. I've never withdrawn in my life." He claimed to have "tremendous support."
In a videotaped midnight apology, Trump declared: "I was wrong and I apologize" after being caught on tape bragging about aggressively groping women in 2005. He also defiantly dismissed the revelations as "nothing more than a distraction" from a decade ago and signaled he would press his presidential campaign forward by arguing that rival Hillary Clinton has committed greater sins against women.
"I've said some foolish things," Trump said in a video posted on his Facebook page early Saturday. "But there's a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims."
In the controversial video, Trump talks about groping women in the “p—y,” trying and failing to “f–k” a married woman, and being able to “do anything” to women because of his fame.
Mike Pence on Saturday issued a statement saying he won't "condone" or "defend" Trump's comments.
"As a husband and a father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump," he said in the statement.
He continued: "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," referring to the second presidential debate, which will be at Washington University in St. Louis.