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Campaign 2016 updates: Donald Trump isn’t leaving the race, even as a chorus of Republicans denounce him

Donald Trump apologizes for lewd comments about women as Republicans denounce him.

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Advice for Trump from chief of staff for longtime California supporter: Explain how you’ve changed in the last 10 years

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine)
(Getty Images)

Donald Trump should explain how he’s changed in the last 10 years, the chief of staff for one of his first congressional supporters said Saturday.

Several representatives and senators have withdrawn their support for the Republican nominee in the day since a 2005 recording of Trump making comments about groping women was first reported by the Washington Post on Friday.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) was one of the first members of Congress to endorse Trump and has been an ardent supporter for months.

When asked if anything had changed for his boss in the last day, Hunter’s chief of staff, Joe Kasper, wrote in an email:

“In many ways, I’m sure Donald Trump is learning he’s not the same person he was 20 or even 10 years ago. What sounds like bar room talk to some is very insulting to others — and he should explain how that’s reflective of his character today, something many folks recognize but need to feel is sincere.

“And not to excuse but rather put in context, Trump was building a brand and a business empire without an expectation he’d ever run for office, much less President. In that regard there was no real consequence but that’s definitely not the case when running for President.”

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In a show of solidarity, Trump campaign announces Pence will be back on the trail Monday

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence isn’t leaving Donald Trump’s side — at least not yet.

Pence will hit the campaign trail for Trump on Monday with a pair of rallies in North Carolina, according to a schedule released by the campaign late Saturday. It will be Pence’s first public event since audio surfaced of Trump making lewd and predatory comments about women, which Pence condemned, an unusual step for a running mate but one that several top Republicans also took.

“As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump in the 11-year-old video. I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them,” Pence said. "... We pray for his family and look forward to the opportunity he has to show what is in his heart” during Sunday night’s second presidential debate.

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As Republicans abandon Trump, his chances plummet in the betting markets

While poll data, especially those based on a rolling average of a week’s responses like our own USC Dornsife/L.A. Times Poll, take time to process the public’s responses to events, betting markets react quickly.

Trump had already been in a slide since the first presidential debate Sept. 26. But then came Friday’s publication of 2005 video footage on which Trump crudely discusses groping and hitting on women, and the fallout, including many leading Republicans abandoning him. Data from Predictwise, which includes prediction markets in its analysis, show Trump’s odds of winning the presidency dropping from 20% to 13% overnight.

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As top Republicans jump off the Trump train, a big donor stands fast

Robert Mercer.
(Andrew Toth / Getty Images)

Even as several prominent Republicans jump ship, the besieged Donald Trump campaign has received a strong show of faith from his biggest financial backer.

Robert Mercer, a hedge fund billionaire who has become one of the nation’s largest backers of ultraconservative causes, and his daughter Rebekah, a Trump campaign insider, said that they “stand steadfastly” behind Trump.

The Mercers issued a statement that sneers at leading party figures such as Sen. John McCain of Arizona for denouncing Trump, saying they had yielded to the “boom box of media blather” after the release of a tape on which Trump brags about trying to have sex with a married woman and that his “star” status allowed him to grope women freely.

“Can anyone really be surprised that Mr. Trump could have said to [television host Billy] Bush such things as he has already admitted saying? No. We are completely indifferent to Mr. Trump’s locker room braggadocio?” said the statement, issued Saturday in the name of the family by a representative.

As Trump himself has done, the Mercers have tried to deflect criticism by bringing up the sex scandals involving Bill Clinton. After the tape was leaked Friday, Trump tried to dismiss it by saying he had heard worse from Clinton on the golf course. In a longer statement of apology Trump issued hours later, he again references Bill Clinton’s affairs and Hillary Clinton’s responses to them.

Mercer, a computer scientist who helped build a hedge fund called Renaissance Technologies into one of the most successful firms in Wall Street history, has given $15.5 million to a super PAC first formed to support Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. After Cruz dropped out, the Mercers began backing Trump and, following a shakeup, family allies took over Trump’s campaign.

In reasserting its support for Trump, the Mercer family said that the nation faces an “apocalyptic choice” in the election.

“We have a country to save and there is only one person who can save it,” the statement said.

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Rudy Giuliani says Trump is ‘in the race to win’

Rudolph W., Giuliani left Trump Tower late Saturday with a message for Donald Trump’s supporters and detractors — that the GOP presidential nominee had no intention of backing down from critics.

“He’s in the race to win and he is going to win,” said Giuliani, the former New York mayor who was one of several of Trump’s top advisors holed up in campaign headquarters Saturday to deal with the fallout from a tape released a day earlier in which Trump is heard boasting about groping women.

Top Republicans peeled away from Trump’s candidacy after the video emerged, with prominent GOP lawmakers saying they will not vote for him.

As the party scrambled Saturday, Trump appeared determined to press forward to Sunday’s debate with Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“This is basically the insiders against the outsiders, anyway,” Giuliani told reporters.

“You want change in Washington, you vote for Donald Trump.”

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Darrell Issa is among the California Republicans who have criticized Trump but haven’t rescinded their endorsements

Some of the 14 Republican members of the California congressional delegation had strong words for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump after comments he made about groping women became public Friday, but only a few said they would no longer support him.

Most were like Rep. Darrell Issa of Vista, who criticized Trump but did not rescind his endorsement.

He posted a link to the original Washington Post article on his Facebook page with the comment, “This type of behavior has no place in American politics, especially not from those seeking to lead our great nation.”

Issa was named to Trump’s National Security Advisory Council hours before the comments came out.

Issa spokesman Calvin Moore expanded on the Facebook post in an email Saturday.

“As he expressed in his early reaction last night, he found these comments and behavior wholly inappropriate, offensive and unfitting of anyone seeking to lead our nation. There is never a time or place where it’s appropriate to make jokes about sexual assault,” he said.

Rep. Mimi Walters of Irvine, the only female Republican in the delegation and the sponsor of the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights that was just signed into law, said in a statement that Trump must explain himself.

“As a mother of two daughters, I condemn Donald Trump’s offensive and language about women. It was beyond inappropriate, and he needs to understand that he alone is accountable for his words and actions.”

Several other Republicans in the delegation hadn’t mentioned the remarks or Trump on social media or their campaign websites as of Saturday afternoon.

Earlier Saturday, Rep. Steve Knight of Palmdale said he would not vote for Trump and Rep. David Valadao of Hanford repeated that he would not back the nominee. Republican 24th District candidate Justin Fareed also said in a statement Saturday he won’t back Trump or his rival, Hillary Clinton.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a statement that those backing away from Trump are too late.

“If any of the Republican House Members or candidates were truly serious about opposing Donald Trump, they would have ditched him a long time ago and sworn to oppose him at the ballot box in November by voting for Hillary Clinton,” spokeswoman Barb Solish said in a statement.

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Sarah Palin is still sticking with Trump despite ‘beyond abhorrent’ comments

Sarah Palin has no shortage of disapproving adjectives to describe the leaked tapes of Donald Trump bragging about groping women, but the former Alaska governor is not joining the wave of Republicans abandoning the GOP nominee.

In a Facebook post Saturday afternoon, Palin described the comments as “disgusting, shameful, totally disrespectful ‘locker room’ garbage, privately shared between two Hollywood playboys over a decade ago.” But the former Republican vice presidential nominee quickly pivoted to more familiar targets -- the media and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Palin said the media’s focus on the leaked tape was “as offensive” as Trump’s comments, arguing that concerns over the Supreme Court, the economy and other matters are of greater importance.

“Going around media filters you clearly see one candidate offering a bold vision with solid plans to build a stronger, safer, greater America, while the career politician in the race offers only tired, sad, unsustainable, illogical ways of the past that will leave our children unsafe, broken and abused,” Palin wrote.

She also swiped at Clinton for, as a young lawyer, defending a man accused of raping a 12 year-old girl. Clinton was assigned the case while working at the University of Arkansas School of Law Legal Clinic. The case is often invoked by Clinton’s conservative detractors, who accuse the Democratic nominee of hypocrisy in championing women’s rights.

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Donald Trump has a default setting: Blame Bill Clinton. The thing is, they used to be friends. Sort of

Whenever Donald Trump has gotten in trouble for boorish behavior, he’s had a standard response: That may be bad, but Bill Clinton has done much worse.

It was his first inclination Friday, when a lurid tape surfaced from 2005, filled with randy and contemptuous remarks about women.

“Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course — not even close,” Trump said in a sorry-if-I-offended-anyone non-apology apology.

It was his second inclination late Friday night, when he released a video saying he was, indeed, sorry, before segueing into an attack on Clinton and his wife, Hillary, the Democratic presidential nominee.

“There’s a big difference between words and the actions of other people,” Trump said. “Bill Clinton has actually abused women, and Hillary has bullied, attacked and intimidated his victims.”

Trump promised to discuss the allegations “more in the coming days,” including, perhaps, in Sunday night’s second presidential debate, a town hall-style meeting in St. Louis. It is a threat he has made repeatedly since a widely panned performance in the first debate earlier this month.

While the attack sheathed in apology may have thrilled some Trump supporters, who deeply loathe the Clintons, and sated whatever alpha-male competitiveness the Republican nominee feels toward the ex-president, it struck many as needlessly belligerent and politically unhelpful.

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Arizona Sen. John McCain revokes his Trump endorsement and says he’ll write in another candidate

On Friday, Arizona Sen. John McCain said Donald Trump should “suffer the consequences” of his lewd taped remarks.

One such consequence: Trump has lost McCain’s vote.

In a statement Saturday, the Republican senator, who is facing a contentious reelection fight, said he was withdrawing his support from the GOP presidential nominee.

McCain noted that he had “raised questions about [Trump’s] character” several times before, after the candidate made offensive remarks about prisoners of war (including McCain himself), a federal judge of Mexican descent and the Muslim parents of a deceased U.S. soldier.

Yet, McCain had stopped short of breaking ties with the GOP nominee. The comments leaked on Friday, however, appear to have been a breaking point.

“I have wanted to support the candidate our party nominated. He was not my choice, but as a past nominee, I thought it important I respect the fact that Donald Trump won a majority of the delegates by the rules our party set. I thought I owed his supporters that deference,” McCain said.

He continued: “But Donald Trump’s behavior this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy.”

McCain said he and he wife, Cindy, would not vote for Trump or for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee.

“We will write in the name of some good conservative Republican who is qualified to be president,” he said.

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Donald Trump exits Trump Tower — briefly

A raucous crowd greeted Donald Trump as he made an appearance on the sidewalk outside Trump Tower in Manhattan on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, despite fellow Republicans withdrawing their support in the wake of his lewd comments about women, he vowed to push ahead.

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Joe Biden blasts Donald Trump’s behavior as ‘an abuse of power’

Vice President Joe Biden denounced Donald Trump’s taped remarks about groping women, the highest-ranking Democrat so far to do so.

His rebuke of Trump is particularly pointed given the vice president’s history of working to combat domestic violence. As a senator, Biden wrote the Violence Against Women Act in 1990, which strives to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. He also is the face of an Obama administration effort to end sexual assaults on college campuses.

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Paul Ryan, Scott Walker avoid talking about Trump, face hecklers in Wisconsin

A day after rescinding Donald Trump’s invitation to a rally in Wisconsin, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Saturday never mentioned the Republican presidential nominee’s name but acknowledged the controversy at the annual GOP gathering.

“There is a bit of an elephant in the room,” Ryan said told hundreds of Republican voters. “I put out a statement about this last night. I mean what I said, it’s still how I feel. But that is not what we’re here to talk about today.”

Hecklers started chanting Trump’s name and one screamed at Ryan, “You turned your back on us!”

Trump was supposed to headline the rally but Ryan disinvited him Friday after a recording emerged of Trump making lewd and vulgar comments about women. Ryan, the nation’s highest ranking Republican who has had a fraught relationship with Trump, also said he was “sickened” by the remarks.

Ryan instead focused on the U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin, and on his six-point congressional agenda called “A Better Way.”

“In the House, we’re offering people a better way. We are offering solutions,” Ryan said, just after a heckler yelled that he supported President Obama.

Ryan acknowledged the protests. At one point, when he was discussing Obamacare, someone yelled Trump’s name, and Ryan said, “I don’t think he thinks Obamcare is working either.”

The protesters were outnumbered by supporters of Ryan, who has represented this swatch of Wisconsin in Congress since 1999 and is enormously popular here. In the GOP primary this summer, he received 84% of the vote.

Gov. Scott Walker, who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP presidential nomination, also avoided all talk of Trump. Wearing a Green Bay Packers sweatshirt and jeans, Walker instead focused on the Senate race, legislative races and Republicans’ achievements in the state capital.

Fall Fest is an annual GOP fundraiser is a joyful annual tradition in southeast Wisconsin, with voters eating barbeque as politicians speak from hay bales. The air is crisp and the trees are turning a brilliant crimson and orange.

But on Saturday, the undercurrent of the entire event was Ryan’s decision to disinvite Trump.

As local politicians prepared to speak, chants broke out of “We want Trump! We want Trump!”

State Attorney General Brad Schimel addressed the controversy head on.

“I know Donald Trump said some things that are bad,” said Schimel, adding that he was the father of two daughters. “I don’t like hearing anyone talk that way about women.”

The crowd groaned and one man yelled out, “That was like 12 years ago! Get over it!”

Schimel concluded by calling for Republicans to stay behind Trump because of the Supreme Court.

“Donald Trump will appoint judges who will defend our Constitution and protect our Constitution,” he said.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner was heckled as praised Ryan.

“Listen to me please. Be respectful,” he said. “We’re asking people to be respectful in this campaign. There is an awful lot of that. Clean up your act.”

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Vulnerable California House members say they will not back Donald Trump

Rep. Steve Knight
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Several California Republicans in tight House races joined politicians from across the country Saturday who said they cannot back Donald Trump any longer after hearing lewd remarks he made about forcibly kissing and touching women.

Rep. Steve Knight, the state’s most vulnerable Republican, said Saturday he was “deeply disturbed” by the 2005 remarks.

“In my career as a law enforcement professional I was confronted with and worked tirelessly to end the horrific reality of violence toward women. After hearing Donald Trump’s inexcusable comments last night I was deeply disturbed & reminded of that reprehensible behavior,” the Palmdale Republican said in a statement.

Knight, who hasn’t endorsed this year or in previous elections, said he will not support either Trump or Hillary Clinton.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Barb Solish called Knight’s announcement “way too little, way too late, and quite frankly pathetic.”

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, who is challenging Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove), also said Saturday that he will not vote for Trump or Clinton.

“I can no longer explain to my daughters why I am voting for Mr. Trump,” he said in a statement.

Knight, Jones and Justin Fareed, the GOP candidate hoping to replace outgoing Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) each backed away from Trump’s statements Friday, but had not discussed their votes.

Fareed’s spokeswoman told The Times Saturday that he has not said anything further.

Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford), who also is in a closely watched race this year, has already said he will not vote for Trump, and he said in a serious of tweets Saturday morning that the new remarks are an example of why.

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The ‘Nancy’ of Trump’s tawdry comments speaks out: ‘Everyone deserves respect’

(Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images)

“Entertainment Tonight” co-anchor Nancy O’Dell, the woman who was the focus Donald Trump’s lewd comments in a 2005 audio recording, said Saturday she was saddened by the Republican nominee’s comments.

“When I heard the comments yesterday, it was disappointing to hear such objectification of women,” O’Dell said in a statement. “The conversation needs to change because no female, no person, should be the subject of such crass comments, whether or not cameras are rolling. Everyone deserves respect no matter the setting or gender.”

O’Dell said “as a woman who has worked very hard to establish her career, and as a mom, I feel I must speak out with the hope that as a society we will always strive to be better.”

In 2005 audio, obtained by the Washington Post and released Friday, Trump is heard talking with Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” as he bragged about making advances on an O’Dell, who at the time was Bush’s co-host on the show. The two were headed to the set of “Days of Our Lives,” where Trump was making an appearance on the soap opera.

“I moved on her and I failed. I’ll admit it,” Trump is heard saying. “I did try and f— her. She was married.”

O’Dell, 50, was a host on “Access Hollywood” from 1996 until 2009. She left the show two years before her contract expired. In 2004 and 2005 O’Dell co-hosted Miss Universe. Trump at the time was a part owner of the pageant.

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Paul Ryan has no plans to talk about Trump any further

Paul Ryan, the highest ranking elected Republican, appeared at a campaign event Saturday in his home state of Wisconsin and immediately said he wouldn’t talk about Donald Trump. A night earlier, Ryan condemned the latest crude remarks of Trump’s to emerge and said that Trump would not be attending the campaign event, as had been planned.

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Tic Tac distances itself from Donald Trump after distasteful comments about women

Even name brands are condemning Donald Trump’s comments about women.

Tic Tac USA tweeted on Saturday that it “respects all women.”

“We find the recent statements and behavior completely inappropriate and unacceptable,” the company said.

In a recording released Friday in which Trump boasts about his attraction to beautiful women, he made a reference to the popular mint candy.

“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” he said in 2005 about a woman on the set of the soap opera “Days of Our Lives.” “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet.”

It’s not the first time a brand has had to distance itself from Trump’s campaign.

Last month, Donald Trump Jr. compared Syrian refugees to a lethal bowl of Skittles.

In a statement, Skittles’ parent company, Wrigley Americas, disavowed the comparison, saying, “Skittles are candy. Refugees are people.”

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Who’s who of Trump detractors: More Republicans call on candidate to quit, but top leaders still mostly mum

(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

The first few Republicans who called on Donald Trump to quit the presidential race were not an entirely unexpected group.

Several were already Trump holdouts, such as Sen. Mike Lee in religious and conservative Utah, where voters are skeptical of the thrice-divorced Trump, and Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona. Neither had endorsed the nominee.

They were joined quickly by Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, already a de facto leader in the Never Trump movement, who tweeted early Saturday: “Step aside and let Mike Pence try.”

Then lawmakers in tough reelection battles piled on, an understandable political calculation, especially in swing states.

Among them: Rep. Mike Coffman in Colorado said Trump should call it quits as did Rep. Joe Heck, who is running for Senate in Nevada.

A turning point, though, came midday Saturday, when Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 3 GOP leader in the Senate, said Trump should “withdraw” and running mate Pence should immediately become the nominee.

But so far Thune has been a lonely leadership voice to say so.

While an increasing number of prominent Republicans, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, said Saturday they cannot vote for Trump, other GOP leaders have played it safer, simply expressing their unease.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said he was “sickened” over Trump’s comments and actions.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called on Trump to apologize. And former GOP presidential hopefuls Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas stopped short of calling for him to quit.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who is fighting for political survival in New Hampshire, announced Saturday she could no longer vote for Trump. Sen. Richard Burr, in a tough contest in North Carolina, said only that Trump’s comments were “unacceptable.”

Dumping Trump at this point would be tough, both in theory and practice.

The Republican National Committee cannot simply oust him without a rules change, according to one GOP elections expert.

However, if Trump were to resign, the RNC could elect a new nominee. But that would require a majority vote and that, as the GOP expert said, would not only be unprecedented, but it would “probably create a civil war -- and lawsuits.”

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Opinion: It takes a village to raise a misogynistic monster like Donald Trump

Miss Universe Alicia Machado, left, and Donald Trump chat at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 15, 1997.
Miss Universe Alicia Machado, left, and Donald Trump chat at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 15, 1997.
(Lannis Waters / Associated Press)

Melissa Batchelor Warnke, a contributing writer to Opinion, had this to say today about the Republican presidential nominee:

The truly revelatory aspect of the video that emerged Friday of Donald Trump commenting casually about groping women is that it shows Trump in the environment that enables his behavior. There are two characters in the video that we’ve seen time and again: a dude kissing his rings and a woman leaning into her own objectification.

Sexist jackasses like Trump don’t exist in isolation; they need support from opportunists, willing to trade in whatever trace of public morality they have for private gain.

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Here’s the RNC rule Republicans are scouring as they call for Trump to quit

As a surge of Republicans call for Donald Trump to step aside, election wonks are combing through GOP rules to see how, exactly, that would work.

The one to know is Rule 9.

Under Republican National Committee rules, the party has no authority to unilaterally dump the nominee. An attempt to change the rules would be “really unprecedented and probably create a civil war and lawsuits,” said one GOP elections expert, who requested anonymity to speak frankly.

That’s why GOP officials are asking Trump to step aside of his own volition.

Rule 9 comes into play if a candidate dies or otherwise vacates a nomination. The rule has never been invoked to replace a presidential or vice presidential nominee, Ballotpedia noted. Some anti-Trump Republicans have said that the wording in the rule — “by reason of death, declination or otherwise” — leaves the door open for the GOP to oust Trump under that fuzzy language. But most experts say Trump must willingly step aside for the rule to go into effect.

In that unlikely event — Trump tweeted in all caps Saturday that he’d never drop out — the RNC rules committee then would vote on a new nominee. Most of the Republicans calling for Trump to step aside have floated vice presidential nominee Mike Pence as a replacement.

Times staff writer Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

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Pence’s campaign schedule? TBD for the first time in a while

The Trump campaign website posts upcoming appearances for both nominee Donald Trump and running mate Mike Pence. Often campaign stops have been listed there before advisories are sent to the media.

Trump has a lot of travel showing ahead, but Pence’s schedule is a bit unusual, straying from recent practice.

“Please check back later for an updated schedule,” it now reads.

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Wisconsin voters disapprove of Trump’s comments but are more upset that Paul Ryan disinvited him

Voters attending a fall festival in Elkhorn, Wis., on Saturday were disappointed — some downright hostile — that House Speaker Paul D. Ryan rescinded an invitation to Donald Trump to speak here after a recording emerged of the GOP presidential nominee making vulgar comments about women.

“Paul Ryan sucks!” chanted Paul Anderson, who drove nearly an hour from Milwaukee to hear Trump speak.

Holding a sign that said “Hillary Clinton is a criminal,” Anderson said he thought Ryan wanted Clinton to win the White House.

“Donald Trump said some naughty words the other day. Oh, no, let’s disinvite him to Elkhorn,” said Anderson, the 28-year-old owner of a gourmet popcorn store. “Hillary Clinton is laughing at Paul Ryan right now. Or laughing with him.”

Sally Luell, 68, called Trump’s remarks “abhorrent” but said she would continue to support Trump because she “can’t stand Hillary.”

“I think Hillary Clinton backing her husband when he was doing what he was doing was worse,” said the retired municipal worker from Muskego.

The independent voted for Bill Clinton twice in the 1990s, but said the Democratic Party had grown too liberal on issues such as immigration and trade. Now, she said she was unhappy with Ryan, who has represented this region in Congress since 1999.

“I’ve always liked Paul Ryan. I’m a little disappointed in him,” Luell said.

Many of the voters also said that while they did not approve of Trump’s words, it was unfair to attack him for a private conversation more than a decade ago.

“It’s mildly vulgar. He shouldn’t have said it. But this is how men talk at times,” said Orville Seymer, 62, of Franklin.

“It’s locker room talk. I’m not excusing it, but he apologized. … We need to focus on what’s important to this country and getting it back on track, and getting some rational, reasonable Supreme Court justices appointed to the bench.”

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Melania Trump: Donald’s words are ‘unacceptable and offensive to me’

(Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Melania Trump issued a statement Saturday in support of her husband:

“The words my husband used are unacceptable and offensive to me. This does not represent the man that I know. 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. “

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GOP elected officials abandon Trump as he vows not to quit the race

(Andrew Harnik/AP )

Republican elected officials, who had stuck by Donald Trump through months of controversy, began to flee his campaign Saturday even as the embattled GOPnominee vowed not to quit the presidential race.

One day after a video became public in which Trump could be heard boasting that he could grope women because “when you’re a star, they let you do it,” his campaign appeared on the verge of melting down.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Trump rejected demands by a growing number of fellow Republicans that he step aside.

“I’d never withdraw. I’ve never withdrawn in my life,” he said.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger: ‘I will not vote for the Republican candidate for president’

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger joined a chorus of Republicans who announced Saturday they will not support Donald Trump for president.

Schwarzenegger, who took over for Trump this year as host of NBC’s “The Apprentice,” said it will be the first time since becoming a citizen in 1983 that he will not vote for the GOP nominee. He did not indicate for whom he would vote in November.

The action film star, who did not mention Trump’s lewd comments about women, faced criticism over his own alleged sexually aggressive behavior during the 2003 recall election to become California’s governor.

At the time, six women who had come into contact with Schwarzenegger on movie sets told the Los Angeles Times that he had touched them in a sexual manner without their consent. The incidents occurred from in the 1970s and ‘80s, and once in 2000, according to the women.

They described being groped by him in various ways — grabbing their breasts or reaching under the skirt of one. Other stories later followed.

Schwarzenegger’s team first denied the claims, but the candidate then apologized, saying he had “behaved badly sometimes.”

On Saturday, he did not spell out his reasons for walking away from the candidate of the party he joined after coming to the U..S. in 1968.

“Like many Americans, I’ve been conflicted this election,” Schwarzenegger said. “I want to take a moment to remind my fellow Republicans that it is not only acceptable to choose your country over your party — it is your duty.”

1:25 p.m.: This post was updated with background information.

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South Dakota’s John Thune is first GOP Senate leader to demand Trump stand down

South Dakota Sen. John Thune on Saturday became the first member of the Senate Republican leadership to urge Donald Trump to stand down as the party’s presidential nominee.

Thune is chairman of the Republican Conference, the No. 3. leadership position in the Senate.

Earlier, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell weighed in with a statement condemning Trump’s lewd comments about women, which surfaced Friday in a 2005 video.

“As the father of three daughters, I strongly believe that Trump needs to apologize directly to women and girls everywhere, and take full responsibility for the utter lack of respect for women shown in his comments on that tape,” McConnell said.

He did not, however, withdraw his support or suggest Trump step aside.

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Mike Pence ‘cannot defend’ Trump’s comments, scraps filling in for him at Saturday event

Vice presidential nominee Mike Pence said Saturday he “cannot defend” Donald Trump’s comments about women, but was looking ahead to Trump’s debate Sunday against Hillary Clinton.

Pence no longer will be filling in for Trump at a campaign stop in Wisconsin on Saturday, according to reports.

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

“I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them. ... 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.”

The Indiana governor’s comments come as many in the party are calling for Trump to step aside and have Pence become the GOP nominee.

That is a daunting prospect, both in theory and practice, that others have said would deepen the divide with the Republican Party.

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Mitt Romney says he’s ‘offended and dismayed’ by video but stops short of calling on Trump to quit

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said he was “offended and dismayed” by Donald Trump’s lewd comments about women, but stopped short of calling for him to leave the race.

Romney’s criticism came as no surprise, as he has been central in the “Never Trump” movement.

Perhaps more interesting was the venue for his comments: a campaign stop in Nevada for Joe Heck, the GOP congressman in a close Senate race for the seat opened up by the impending retirement of Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader.

Heck reversed his previous support for Trump by calling on him to step down from the Republican ticket.

“I cannot in good conscience continue to support Donald Trump,” Heck said, to boos from some in the crowd. “All women deserve better.”

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Pence, too, is out at Wisconsin event with Paul Ryan

House Leader Paul Ryan had been scheduled to appear with Donald Trump today at a rally in Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin. But Ryan disinvited Trump after a video of Trump making very lewd remarks about women surfaced.

Trump announced that Pence would be going to Wisconsin in his place while he prepared for Sunday’s debate. But now Pence won’t be attending, either.

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Republican Kelly Ayotte, locked in tight Senate race, says she won’t vote for Trump and will write in Pence

The New Hampshire senator, who stood by the combative GOP presidential nominee despite his attacks on the Gold Star parents of a fallen U.S. soldier, says she “wanted to be able to support my party’s nominee” but is a “mom and an American first.”

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Watch: Indie rock band asks L.A. to vote for Clinton

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Fending off demands he step aside, Trump says he’ll never quit

As pressure mounted for Donald Trump to step aside from the presidential ticket, the GOP nominee struck a defiant tone Saturday, telling two newspapers he won’t back down.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Trump flatly rejected demands by fellow Republicans that he resign.

“No, I’m not quitting this race,” he said. “I have tremendous support.”

Trump said he was “holding up well” in the aftermath of a leaked recording from 2005 that revealed the then-reality star speaking crudely and aggressively about women. He said he was considering giving a speech Saturday evening to rally supporters.

Trump struck a similar note in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, saying there was “zero chance” he would quit.

The “support I’m getting is unbelievable,” he said.

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Carly Fiorina calls on Donald Trump to step aside and Mike Pence to move to the top of the ticket

Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, joined a growing list of those demanding that Donald Trump end his presidential campaign, calling on running mate Mike Pence to ascend to the top of the ticket.

Fiorina, the only woman to seek the Republican nomination for president, was tough on Trump and his views on women during the primaries, memorably challenging him during a debate after it emerged that he had insulted her looks.

“I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said,” she said, glaring.

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Influential conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt urges Trump to step aside

It’s not just GOP elected officials who are backing away from Donald Trump after leaked video revealed Trump bragging about groping women.

Hugh Hewitt, an influential conservative radio host, urged Trump to step down as the Republican presidential nominee Saturday morning, predicting that more unsavory utterances from Trump’s past may be unearthed.

Hewitt had been a reluctant, but ultimately committed Trump supporter. As recently as June of this year, he was calling for Republicans to change their nominating convention rules to replace Trump as the nominee.

But he embraced Trump after the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub that month, arguing the GOP candidate would be better in fighting terrorism than Hillary Clinton. And Hewitt asserted in July that “of course” he was voting for Trump, citing Supreme Court justices as his top concern.

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Trump returns to Twitter: ‘Certainly has been an interesting 24 hours!’

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Reluctant Trump supporter Paul Ryan faces a test today

(AP file photo)

Saturday was supposed to be the first joint campaign appearance by Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, with the two men appearing at an autumnal festival in rural Wisconsin to send a bucolic message of party unity.

Now, in the wake of a video showing Trump vulgarly boasting about groping women, the GOP presidential nominee won’t be there — but Ryan will be the focus of massive attention as to what course he takes.

Ryan, the nation’s top elected Republican, endorsed Trump even as he frequently expressed discomfort with Trump’s views. Now the speaker’s calculation is even more vexing.

If he backs away entirely from Trump, he could encourage other Republican politicians to abandon their nominee, which could hamper turnout and cost the GOP some House seats. If he sticks with Trump, the 2012 vice presidential nominee and likely future presidential contender risks his Boy Scout reputation for upright and earnest behavior.

Within hours of the video’s release, members of Ryan’s caucus such as Reps. Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Barbara Comstock of Virginia said they had reached their breaking point and disavowed their party’s standard-bearer. The question is whether Ryan will follow suit.

Aides to Ryan said he did not speak with Trump following the report about the video, which was published in the Washington Post. But his decision to disinvite Trump from the Fall Fest in Elkhorn, Wis., and his statement about the matter were striking.

“I am sickened by what I heard today. Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified,” Ryan said. “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. In the meantime, he is no longer attending tomorrow’s event in Wisconsin.”

It’s not the first time the two men have tangled.

After Trump clinched the GOP nomination, Ryan initially refused to endorse him, saying, “I’m just not ready to do that at this point.”

Shortly after he did endorse Trump, Ryan called Trump’s statements that a Mexican American judge could not fairly adjudicate a trial involving him a “textbook definition of a racist comment.”

Ryan rebuked Trump’s attacks on the parents of a Muslim soldier who was killed in the line of duty, as well as his initial refusal to condemn support from David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

Ryan has repeatedly condemned Trump’s ban on Muslims entering the nation as un-American and called on Trump to release his tax returns.

Trump, for his part, also has been critical of Ryan. He partly blamed the GOP’s 2012 White House loss on Ryan’s budget proposal that included cuts to Medicare. This summer, Trump initially declined to endorse Ryan in his reelection bid, praising his GOP rival, Paul Nehlen, and echoing Ryan’s language by saying, “I’m just not quite there yet.” He ultimately endorsed the House Speaker.

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‘Repugnant,’ ‘demeaning,’ ‘vulgar’: Republicans react to Donald Trump’s remarks, and Democrats chime in too

(Ralph Freso / Associated Press)

The release of a recording of Donald Trump bragging about groping women drew harsh statements from both Republicans and Democrats condemning the GOP presidential nominee.

There were calls for him to step down. Here are some of those comments:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)

“There are no excuses for Donald Trump’s offensive and demeaning comments. No woman should ever be victimized by this kind of inappropriate behavior. He alone bears the burden of his conduct and alone should suffer the consequences.”

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