Trump tapes don’t change GOP candidates’ votes

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Hearing Donald Trump brag about groping and kissing women without their consent on a 2005 recording has ruptured the Republican Party, but it has not changed the minds of any candidates for office on the North Shore.

Around the nation, dozens of Republican figures, including current and former federal officeholders, have said they will no longer vote for their party’s presidential nominee after seeing the video from an “Access Hollywood” taping, first published by The Washington Post on Oct. 7. Some have even called on Trump to drop out and let Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, his running mate, take his place.

In the recording, Trump privately describes in graphic terms how he can “do anything” to women he meets because he is “a star.”

“Grab ’em by the p—y,” he says. “You can do anything.”

Trump issued a videotaped apology on Oct. 8 and said his recorded comments do not reflect the person he is now.

Four local GOP candidates for state and federal offices roundly condemned Trump’s lewd remarks but say they will still vote for him, while a fifth says he is now even more convinced Trump is unfit for office.

Their Democratic opponents said the video further proves Trump is a misogynist who cannot be trusted to lead the nation. Some condemned their GOP opponents for continuing to support him with their votes.

In a tweet Saturday, state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury), who is running to replace retiring Rep. Steve Israel, said he “expect[s] better from another father of daughters, especially one running” for president.

While Martins told Newsday’s editorial board Tuesday that he is “deeply troubled” by Trump, he said he is still preferable to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee.

“I will keep whoever is president in check and do what is right for the residents of New York’s 3rd Congressional District,” Martins said in a statement.

While he said Trump’s comments raised strong concerns for him, retired U.S. Marine David Gurfein, Rep. Kathleen Rice’s GOP opponent in the 4th Congressional District, said Trump is “the one I have to choose” to keep Clinton out of the White House.

Other presidents such as Bill Clinton also treated women badly, Gurfein said. Trump himself has pointed to sexual assault allegations against Bill Clinton. 

“As horrible as I find Donald Trump’s words, I find her actions, especially with regard to what she’s done to destabilize the world from an international defense standpoint, are far worse that what Donald Trump has said,” Gurfein said.

Elaine Phillips, the Republican mayor of the Village of Flower Hill running to succeed Martins in the 7th Senate District, said comments like Trump’s “are unacceptable in any setting and cannot be tolerated.”

But when asked whether Phillips will still vote for Trump, a spokesman pointed to her past statement that she would.

State Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square) did not directly address whether he will vote for Trump, but said his remarks are “despicable and can not be defended.”

Ra, running for a fourth term, said he is focusing on issues important to his constituents, such as property taxes and education.

But Matt Varvaro, a Port Washington Republican running to succeed Democratic Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, said he never supported Trump and previously decided not to vote in the presidential race.

Varvaro worked on the presidential campaign of former  Gov. George Pataki, who no longer supports Trump.

“The remarks that Donald Trump made about women are appalling,” he said. “They do not reflect the kind of character, temperament, or judgment that we should expect from a candidate for president of the United States.”

Democrats used similar words to condemn Trump’s comments, saying they reflect “who he’s been and this is what he’s been saying all along,” in the words of Gary Port, Ra’s opponent in the 19th Assembly District.

Martins’ Democratic opponent, Tom Suozzi, a former Nassau County executive, pledged to be a leader who will fight for the 3rd Congressional District while calling Trump’s remarks “shocking and sad.”

Rice, a former Nassau County district attorney running for her second term in Congress, said Trump described “the definition of sexual assault” in the video and said he has “no shame, no conscience, no respect for women and no respect for the law.”

“Many Republican leaders are finally … abandoning Trump now that he was caught on tape bragging about committing sexual assault. But clearly, our opponent isn’t one of them,” said Coleman Lamb, a Rice spokesman.

Adam Haber, Phillips’ Democratic opponent in the state Senate race, said the fact that Phillips still plans to vote for Trump “should tell voters everything they need to know about the choice they face this November.”

Reach reporter Noah Manskar by e-mail at nmanskar@theislandnow.com or by phone at 516.307.1045 x204. Also follow us on Twitter @noahmanskar and Facebook at facebook.com/theislandnow.

By Noah Manskar

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