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Republicans abandon Trump after controversial remarks

Preparations were underway Saturday for the second presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, set for Sunday in St. Louis. Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

Republicans Saturday abandoned Donald Trump, with some calling for him to step aside as GOP presidential nominee, in the wake of the release of his taped remarks about women.

Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, said “I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them.” But Pence did not explicitely address calls in the Republican Party for him to be come the party’s nominee.

Senator John McCain said there are “no excuses” for his comments and indicated he was no longer supporting the GOP’s nominee.

“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 in a statement.

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Representative Mike Coffman, from Colorado, said Trump should “step aside,” the Denver Post reported.

“For the good of the country, and to give the Republicans a chance of defeating Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump should step aside,” Coffman said in a statement. “His defeat at this point seems almost certain and four years of Hillary Clinton is not what is best for this country.”

Meanwhile, Utah Senator Mike Lee said Trump’s remarks are a ‘‘distraction from the important issues we’re facing today.’’

Lee said in a video posted on his Facebook page early Saturday morning: ‘‘You, sir, are the distraction. Your conduct, sir, is the distraction.’’

Lee added that the goal of the GOP is to defeat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. For that reason, he said, Trump should step aside.

Kelly Ayotte, a Republican senator from New Hampshire who is in a tight election race with Democrat Maggie Hassan, said on Saturday that she would not vote for Trump and would write in the name of his running mate, Mike Pence.

US Senator John Thune, chairman of the Senate Republican conference, said in a Tweet Saturday that Trump should be replaced by his running mate.

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Mark Kirk, a Republican senator from Illinois, tweeted that Trump should drop out and that the GOP “should engage rules from emergency replacement.”

Representative Barbara Comstock, a first-term Republican from northern Virginia, said on Twitter that Trump should allow the GOP to replace him on the ticket.

Comstock, who is seeking re-election in Virginia’s most closely watched congressional race, has long been critical of Trump and has repeatedly tried to distance herself from him throughout her campaign.

Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse said in a tweet that ‘‘character matters’’ and Trump ‘‘is obviously not going to win.’’

Sasse said Trump ‘‘can still make an honorable move’’ by stepping aside and letting his running mate — Mike Pence — have a try.

Jeb Bush, a former Republican presidential candidate and former governor of Florida, tweeted that Trump’s comments were “reprehensible.”

For her part, Hillary Clinton tweeted that “We cannot allow this man to become president.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report.