NEW YORK — Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump early Saturday issued an unusual videotaped apology after a 2005 recording surfaced that showed him speaking in extraordinarily vulgar terms about women, setting off an uproar in the Republican Party.
“I said it, I was wrong and I apologize,’’ he said.
The apology came as he faced censure from Republican leaders after the tape was made public. It captures Trump speaking about pushing himself on women and boasting that he could get away with “anything” because of his celebrity.
In a three-minute recording, which was obtained by The Washington Post, Trump recounts to television personality Billy Bush of the program “Access Hollywood,” how he once pursued a married woman and “moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there,” expressing regret that they did not have sex.
He brags of a special status with women: Because he was “a star,” he said, he could “grab them by the p---y” whenever he wanted. “You can do anything,” Trump says.
‘‘I’ve said some foolish things, but there’s a big difference between the words and actions of other people,’’ Trump said in the videotaped apology. “Bill Clinton has actually abused women, and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed, and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days. See you at the debate on Sunday.’’
Trump, in a statement earlier in the day, sought to minimize the lewdness of his remarks.
“This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course — not even close,” Trump said. “I apologize if anyone was offended.”
Leaders of both parties heaped criticism on the Republican Party presidential nominee, and House Speaker Paul Ryan withdrew his invitation to appear alongside Trump this weekend.
Trump’s remarks seemed more troubling than boys-will-be-boys banter. He said he was compulsively drawn to kissing beautiful women “like a magnet” — “I don’t even wait” — and talked about plotting to seduce the married woman by taking her furniture shopping.
Trump, who was 59 at the time, went on to disparage the woman, whom he did not name, saying, “I did try and [expletive] her. She was married,” and, “She’s now got the big phony tits and everything.”
Editor’s note: This video contains offensive language.
Here is my statement. I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not. I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me, know these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it, it was wrong, and I apologize. I’ve travelled the country talking about change for America. But my travels have also changed me. I’ve spent time with grieving mothers who’ve lost their children, laid off workers whose jobs have gone to other countries, and people from all walks of life who just want a better future. I have gotten to know the great people of our country, and I’ve been humbled by the faith they’ve placed in me. I pledge to be a better man tomorrow, and will never, ever let you down. Let’s be honest. We’re living in the real world. This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we are facing today. We are losing our jobs, we are less safe than we were 8 years ago and Washington is broken. Hillary Clinton, and her kind, have run our country into the ground. I’ve said some foolish things, but there is a big difference between words and actions. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days. See you at the debate on Sunday.Posted by Donald J. Trump on Friday, October 7, 2016
Ryan described himself as “sickened” by Trump’s remarks.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the House majority leader, went a step further than many elected Republicans, issuing a statement late Friday night calling on Trump to express contrition — and potentially offering other Senate Republicans cover to disavow the nominee if he refuses to apologize.
“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,” said McConnell.
While neither Ryan nor McConnell immediately withdrew their formal support for Trump, Republican leaders in Washington held anguished discussions throughout the evening about how the party should proceed with a badly wounded and potentially toxic nominee. They cannot remove their nominee from the ticket, though some hoped that Trump would decide on his own to step down.
Trump, seeking to minimize the import of the disclosure despite the public rebuke by Ryan, announced late Friday evening that he would no longer travel to Wisconsin as planned, and would send his running mate, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, in his stead. Trump said he would spend Saturday preparing for his second debate with Hillary Clinton, set to take place Sunday in St. Louis.
The disclosure of the audio tape comes at the end of a punishing two weeks, during which Trump has faced intense backlash over his treatment of women and intensifying scrutiny of his personal finances and views on national security.
Clinton’s campaign condemned Trump forcefully for the comments captured on the recording. Her running mate, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, said in response to the remarks, “It makes me sick to my stomach.”
More Republicans joined in the denunciation, including Governor Gary Herbert of Utah, who had said this summer he would vote for Trump.
“Donald Trump’s statements are beyond offensive & despicable,” Herbert wrote on Twitter. “While I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton, I will not vote for Trump.”
Mitt Romney, the former presidential candidate who has vocally opposed Trump, spoke out again to rebuke Trump on Friday night.
“Hitting on married women? Condoning assault? Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America’s face to the world,” Romney said.
Trump had already been on the defensive Friday after telling CNN that he still believed the exonerated defendants known as the Central Park Five were guilty of a 1989 rape of a female jogger despite DNA evidence to the contrary that later overturned their convictions. Earlier in the day, he also asserted, again without evidence, that the Obama administration was allowing immigrants to enter the country illegally in order to vote in November.
And also in the last week, The New York Times reported that Trump had declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years.
Republican senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, whose reelection prospects this November were damaged when she called Trump a role model for children this week, said in a statement, “His comments are totally inappropriate and offensive.” Ayotte, one of the most prominent women in the party, was facing immense pressure Friday night from other Republicans to disavow Trump entirely, and was said to be considering it.
Another Republican to turn his back on Trump on Friday was Jon M. Huntsman, the former governor of Utah, who just a week ago said he planned to vote for Trump. He told The Salt Lake Tribune that the nominee should withdraw from the race.
“In a campaign cycle that has been nothing but a race to the bottom — at such a critical moment for our nation — and with so many who have tried to be respectful of a record primary vote, the time has come for Governor Pence to lead the ticket,” Huntsman told the newspaper.
Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, suggested Trump had discussed committing a violent crime.
“What Trump described in these tapes amounts to sexual assault,” said Laguens.
The recording of Trump talking to Bush was made as they sat on a bus on the set of a soap opera where Trump was making a cameo appearance. The conversation was recorded after he had married Melania Trump, his third and current wife.
At one point, the conversation in the video was interrupted when an actress arrived to take Trump and Bush to the set. Trump seemed excited.
“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them,” Trump says. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”