Warning: This article contains offensive language and potentially disturbing subject matter. Though the Independent does not normally print obscenities, we have made an exception in this case to provide full context of the national political discussion that is currently ongoing.
House Minority Leader Don Turner of Milton, the Vermont House of Representative’s top Republican, officially withdrew his endorsement for GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump the day after the release of an audio recording in which Trump describes his attempted sexual advance on a married woman.
The Washington Post published a story Friday revealing a 2005 recording of Trump speaking to former “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush, a current “Today Show” host.
At one point in the profane discussion, Trump says, “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Turner called Trump’s words “inexcusable” and “abusive” and said being a husband and a father, he can’t stand for the candidate.
“I just cannot condone any of that,” he told the Independent on Saturday night. “I have three daughters, and I would not ever want anyone to think of them in that manner or speak of them in that manner.”
Turner, who had publicly endorsed Trump’s presidential bid, joins a growing list of over 100 Republican leaders nationwide to condemn Trump’s statements.
Earlier Saturday evening, Turner had issued a statement that denounced Trump’s words but did not fully pull his support for the candidate, saying he didn’t want to react too quickly. He changed his mind after talking to his family.
“At this point I’m not going to vote for president,” Turner said. “I’m just going to leave that spot on the ballot blank. I think that’s what I have to do at this point.”
Turner’s earlier statement said, “This wasn’t ‘boys being boys’ or harmless locker room banter. His statements were abusive.”
Turner referenced the apology Trump issued Friday night in which he called the conversation “locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago.” Trump has said he will not step down.
Turner said it’s difficult to not vote for president, but he can’t support Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton either.
“We’ve had eight years of the Obama Administration, and Hillary Clinton was part of that administration. Her agenda is more of the same,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate and it’s disappointing and it’s almost I feel like I’m not doing my civic duty, but in this case, I am ideologically so far away from Hillary Clinton and what’s she’s proposing and what she stands for that I can’t support her,” he said. “On Trump’s side, I just feel very strongly that I can’t support somebody who would speak like that about women.”
Other Vermont politicians to denounce the statements include gubernatorial candidates Democrat Sue Minter and Republican Phil Scott and U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy.
“Nearly a year ago, long before he was the nominee, I said I would not vote for Mr. Trump because of the laundry list of offensive insults he had already made about people with disabilities, prisoners of war, minorities and women,” Scott, the father of two daughters, said in a press release. “These revolting remarks reaffirm my decision not to support him.”
Minter called the comments “deplorable” but “nothing new” from Trump in a media release Saturday afternoon.
“I believe we need leaders our children can look up to and who absolutely do not condone objectifying women, violence against women or policies that hold women back,” she said.
Sen. Leahy (D-Vt.) said, “This cannot be tolerated or excused away. Donald Trump is not fit to be president.”
Turner acknowledged some of his supporters might be disappointed in his decision.
“I hope they understand,” he said.