As national figures from Mitch McConnell to Robert DeNiro slam Donald Trump for his comments in that bombshell video released Friday, the Republican presidential nominee had at least one defender: former U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah.
Kingston, a top Trump adviser, took to his defense on MSNBC this morning.
“If this conversation had happened yesterday or, you know, a year ago, it would be one thing,” said Kingston. “But 10 years ago, in the context of Hollywood – it doesn’t make it right, not at all – but in the same hand, putting it in context, 10 years ago, in a private conversation. It’s a little different than a public policy statement.”
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Both of Georgia’s Republican U.S. senators, David Perdue and Johnny Isakson, lambasted Trump’s comments but stopped short of withdrawing their endorsements of the nominee.
“Obviously these comments were disrespectful, and right now Senator Perdue is focused on making sure Georgians are safe and helping our state recover from this major storm,” said Perdue spokeswoman Caroline Vanvick.
Isakson said he was “disgusted” by Trump’s remarks.
We’ve reached out to other state Republican leaders and members of the congressional delegation about Trump’s comments and have yet to hear back, at least publicly, from most of them. One told us privately it was clearly the “death knell” of Trump’s campaign.
Democratic Party of Georgia executive director Rebecca DeHart seized on the chance to criticize GOP officials for sticking by Trump.
“Where’s the leadership?” she said. “Why haven’t Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue and the rest of their Party condemned their candidate and immediately withdrawn their support?”
Many top Georgia GOP elected officials were torn over Trump’s rise long before the latest recorded revelation, but none had publicly disavowed him. Republican state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, came closest with a manifesto warning that Trump-ian policies would lead to the extinction of the Republican Party. But even he said he would back Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton over concerns about her judiciary appointments.
And Gov. Nathan Deal’s top aide, Chris Riley, said Trump’s comments were “vile” but he urged Georgians not to forget the hurricane swamping the state’s coast.
The revelation of the 2005 video of Trump was released by the Washington Post on Friday. And while many Republicans are publicly criticizing Trump’s actions, few have disavowed Trump himself. U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., is one of them.
For Trump, the scandal could hardly come at a worse time — two days before a crucial second debate with Hillary Clinton.
It is also stepping on the release by Wikileaks of a new trove of Clinton emails that depict a Clinton chummy with Wall Street and supportive of “open borders” across the hemisphere.