SALT LAKE CITY — One after another, Utah’s top Republican leaders jumped off the Trump train, leaving the Republican nominee in a precarious place in one of the reddest states in America.
After going hours without comment about a 2005 video of Donald Trump using vulgar terms to describe himself grabbing and kissing women without their consent, Utah politicians broke their silence and repudiated him.
Governor Gary Herbert, seen as the flag bearer of the Utah Republican Party, announced on Twitter he was no longer voting for Trump:
Earlier this year Herbert declined to join other Utah Republican leaders in endorsing Trump, but he spoke in support of Mike Pence and told reporters: “You know how I’m going to vote. I don’t need to talk about this anymore.”
Trump’s comments brought almost a wholesale condemnation from Utah’s top GOP leaders. While some recanted their endorsements, others condemned the remarks but stopped short of pulling their support. In a live interview on FOX 13, Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz recanted his endorsement of Trump.
In a Facebook Live video posted late Friday night, Utah Sen. Mike Lee called on Trump to step down from the Republican ticket.
"I respectfully ask you, with all due respect, to step aside," Lee said, addressing Trump directly, in the video from his Utah home. "Step down."
In an emailed statement to FOX 13, Congressman Chris Stewart also called on Trump to step down:
"I'm incredibly disappointed in our party's candidate. And unlike the Democrats who have proven completely unwilling to hold secretary Clinton accountable for her illegal activities that endangered our national security, I am willing to hold Mr. Trump accountable. I am therefore calling for him to step aside and to allow Mike Pence to lead our party."
In a statement, Sen. Orrin Hatch decried the remarks, but did not pull his endorsement.
House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, expressed "shock and bewilderment to anger and disgust." The statement from Hughes (who is one of the high profile of Trump's Utah supporters) reads:
"Today a recording was released of Donald Trump from 2005. Upon learning of its content, the emotions I'm feeling this evening range from shock and bewilderment to anger and disgust. To say I am disappointed would be a gross understatement. I share the same questions and concerns that the rest of this country has. In the coming debate, there will undoubtedly be questions about what we learned today. My hope is that there will be a sincere apology and an accounting for these statements."
Early Saturday morning, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who has acted as a surrogate at Trump campaign rallies, issued a statement condemning the comments, but stopped short of pulling his endorsement.
Congresswoman Mia Love announced in a Facebook post on Saturday she cannot vote for Trump now.
Congressman Rob Bishop said he can't condone the content of the video but stopped short of pulling his support for Trump:
"The video saddens me and again lowers the political rhetoric of this election year. In no way can I condone the attitude toward women and the institution of marriage expressed by Mr. Trump.
This video has been available for over a decade. Had it been presented during the primary season when people had multiple options, I would not have the same sense of frustration I have now. The reality is, today my options are limited and Hillary Clinton is unacceptable as a potential president. Unless he resigns, I must support the Republican nominee as my only option."
The Utah Republican Party officially had no comment on the tapes, but Salt Lake County Republican Party Chairwoman Suzanne Mulet weighed in on Facebook:
Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox compared the footage to the release of video showing Ray Rice allegedly assaulting his fiance, and he shared a text message from his wife featuring some harsh words directed at Trump.
Utah Senator Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, stated on Twitter that "Today's release of the Trump recording is lewd and disturbing. It's disappointing to me that anyone would treat women so disrespectfully."