Iowa Republicans Condemn Trump for Lewd Comments Without Withdrawing Their Support

DES MOINES, Iowa - It was a social media firestorm Friday night after a Washington Post article revealed lewd sexual comments Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump made in 2005 during a secretly-recorded conversation.

The comments, captured by a hot mic on Trump during the shoot of a television show, feature the presidential candidate claiming he tried to sleep with a married woman, and that he could do whatever he wanted to women because of his celebrity status. The graphic content in the recordings - now being referred to as the #TrumpTape on social media - has many within the GOP withdrawing their endorsements and calling on Trump to withdraw from the ticket, allowing Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence to lead.

The Trump campaign was quick to release a statement, where the Republican nominee excused his language as "locker room banter," pivoting to an attack on Bill Clinton.

“This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago," Donald Trump said in a statement Friday. "Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course - not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.”

In a video response published Friday evening, Trump doubled down on his statements, apologizing to anyone who may have been offended by the language and pivoting to attacks on Bill and Hillary Clinton.

But Iowa Republicans are walking a finer line; Senator Joni Ernst tweeted disdain for the presidential candidate's language, but did not indicate it would disqualify her from supporting the Republican nominee.

At the Republican Party of Iowa's annual Reagan Dinner fundraiser Saturday evening, Ernst declined to answer a question from the media regarding whether she'll still vote for Trump.

In a written statement Saturday, Senator Chuck Grassley also condemned Trump.

"The comments were terrible and shameful, and this kind of talk about our fellow human beings shouldn't be acceptable to anyone," said Grassley, a Republican seeking re-election. "His apology was necessary and appropriate."

Representatives David Young and Rod Blum also released statements of disappointment without explicitly withdrawing their support.

“What Donald Trump said was disgusting and indefensible then and it is disgusting and indefensible now,” Young said.

"Donald Trump's comments were disgusting and offensive: treating women in a degrading manner is always unacceptable," Blum said.

Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds have condemned the comments, but say they are committed to supporting the nominee, according to a statement reported by the Des Moines Register.

Meanwhile, other Republicans are jumping ship; House Speaker Paul Ryan withdrew an invitation for Trump to join him at an event in Wisconsin Saturday, but has not announced he will pull his support. New Hampshire Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte and former Republican Presidential candidate John McCain have announced they will no longer vote for their party's nominee.

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann addressed Trump's comments in a press conference Saturday night at the Reagan Dinner.

"I condemned these things will Bill Clinton did them, and I condemn them now when Donald Trump says them," he said.

Meanwhile, Trump has noted he will not drop out - no matter what.