US Senator Kelly Ayotte, locked in a tight reelection battle in New Hampshire, quickly distanced herself Friday from Donald Trump’s latest scandal, joining other Republicans in blasting lewd remarks that he made in 2005 about women.
Ayotte, a Republican, called the GOP presidential nominee’s comments “totally inappropriate and offensive” in a brief statement released by her campaign.
Trump was scheduled to appear for the first time on the campaign trail with House Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin on Saturday. But Friday night, Ryan said that he was “sickened” by Trump’s comments, and that Trump wouldn’t be coming to the event.
Trump himself later said he would be preparing for Sunday night’s debate instead.
Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, was ‘‘beside himself’’ and his wife was furious, according to a person familiar with their thinking.
Trump’s comments first appeared Friday on the website of The Washington Post.
In a three-minute clip from a taping for a segment of “Access Hollywood,” Trump was captured on a hot mic crudely describing his efforts to have sex with a married woman.
Ayotte’s terse response to the latest dustup in Trump’s bid for the White House — in which he has repeatedly drawn criticism for his remarks about women, Mexican immigrants, Muslims, and others — came days after her own misstep involving the real estate mogul.
It came during a debate this week against her Democratic opponent, New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan.
Asked by a moderator if she thought Trump was a role model, Ayotte said, “There are many role models that we have and I believe that he can serve as president, and so, absolutely.”
Within hours, Ayotte said she had misspoken. Ayotte has said she will vote for Trump but has said she is not endorsing him.
Meira Bernstein, a campaign spokeswoman for Hassan, derided Ayotte’s response to Trump’s “Access Hollywood” comments as inadequate.
“Merely calling Trump’s comments ‘inappropriate’ while continuing to support him to lead the free world is pathetic and wrong,” Bernstein said in a statement.
Meanwhile, many GOP luminaries Friday condemned the latest barrage of controversial remarks that have dogged their presidential nominee.
‘‘No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever,” Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement to the Post.
Also among the GOP critics were former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Ohio Governor John Kasich, two of Trump’s rivals in the Republican primaries this year.
“As the grandfather of two precious girls, I find that no apology can excuse away Donald Trump’s reprehensible comments degrading women,” Bush said on Twitter.
Kasich concurred, tweeting out this missive: “Make no mistake the comments were wrong and offensive. They are indefensible.”
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee and a leading Trump critic in the party, was equally outraged on his Twitter feed.
“Hitting on married women? Condoning assault? Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America’s face to the world,” Romney said.
Another Republican presidential hopeful in the primaries, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, tweeted that Trump’s comments were “vulgar, egregious & impossible to justify. No one should ever talk about any woman in those terms, even in private.”
Meghan McCain, a talk radio host and daughter of US Senator John McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee for president, blasted Trump on Twitter. She said he was a “vile excuse for a nominee. I cannot find the humor in any of this.”
After learning of Trump’s comments, US Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, told CNN he would no longer support the GOP nominee’s presidential campaign.