Donald Trump could be dropping out of the race for president, with reports on Friday that Republicans are exploring their options for another candidate in the wake of the bombshell tape showing Trump making crude and disparaging comments about women.
With his campaign already reeling from more than a week of stumbles and harmful reports about his taxes and foundation, some close to Trump believe that the most recent story could be enough to sink the candidate. And reports indicate that Republicans are already discussing their options for a ticket that doesn’t include Donald Trump.
New York Times reporter Yamiche Alcindor noted that Republicans were meeting on Friday night to discuss their options if Donald Trump drops out.
In the audio released by the Washington Post, Trump could be heard having a crude conversation with Billy Bush, who at the time was a host of Access Hollywood. The audio came from 2005, just months after Trump married his wife, Melania, who was also pregnant with their son at the time it was recorded.
In the tape, Trump bragged about hitting on married women and said he could get away with doing anything he wanted to women.
“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything.”
Republicans have immediately turned on Donald Trump after the tape’s release, including RNC chair Reince Priebus.
“No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner,” Priebus said in a statement released Friday night. “Ever.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was scheduled to attend a high-profile event with Trump on Saturday, also condemned the comments and said he would no longer appear with Trump.
“I am sickened by what I heard today,” he said. “Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified. I hope Mr. Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests.”
While there have not been any specific reports that Donald Trump is dropping out of the race, insiders have already said that his race is all but done.
“It’s over,” an unnamed Republican strategist, who had previously been a Trump supporter, told NBC News. “Never seen anything like it. Never will.”
Trump could have other problems, as reports indicate that his relationship with running mate Mike Pence could be irreparably damaged. Pence was at a public appearance on Friday after the report was released, but did not talk to reporters. A later report from The Hill indicated that he was “furious” about the tape.
“Mike Pence and his wife were reportedly floored on Friday when they heard about the lewd remarks about women Donald Trump made in 2005 in a leaked recording.
“Trump’s running mate said he was ‘beside himself’ and his wife Karen was ‘furious’ when he found out about audio tape, a source told the Associated Press.”
Some Republicans are apparently not waiting to see if Donald Trump will drop out of the race. A number of GOP candidates locked in tight races have quickly spoken out to condemn Trump, including statements from Sen. Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire and Richard Burr in North Carolina.
If Donald Trump does drop out of the race, there may be nothing the Republican Party can do to replace him. The Washington Post reported that there is not enough time to get a replacement on the ballot, and early voting has already started in a number of states.
[Featured Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]