The head of the Israeli branch of Republicans Overseas on Sunday said Republican nominee Donald Trump’s 2005 comments about women were “disgusting and absolutely unacceptable,” but stressed that he and other Republicans would continue to support the GOP nominee for president.
Trump’s lewd videotaped remarks about women threw his White House campaign and the Republican Party into turmoil Saturday, just 30 days from the election and on the eve of his second debate with rival Hillary Clinton.
Several prominent Republicans, including Senator John McCain, withdrew support for Trump following the publication of the videotape by The Washington Post Saturday.
But Marc Zell told Israeli radio stations Sunday that he and his five daughters will be voting for the Republican candidate and insisted that the majority of the 200,000 registered US voters in Israel would support the brash billionaire “with all of his shortcomings.”
“I’m saying he doesn’t need to [resign]. He did what he did. His comments are disgusting and absolutely unacceptable, we are against it,” Zell told Army Radio. But “he said he’s not perfect, he apologized.”
There is “no chance” Trump will quit, he said.
The campaign efforts in Israel have seen 200,000 expats register to vote, half of them women, and most will be supporting Trump, Zell maintained.
“The public wants Trump, with all of his shortcomings, over Clinton with her failures, her corruption, her lies,” Zell said.
He maintained that leaked emails from the Democratic nominee showing she had cozied up to Wall Street and corporate interests were worse than Trump’s comments.
“I have five daughters and they will all, all, vote for Trump,” Zell added.
The campaign chief in Israel also urged Republicans to unite in their support for Trump, amid the growing backlash from Republican leaders nationwide who disavowed the GOP’s presidential nominee after his bragging about predatory advances on women in 2005 was published.
“I call upon all the Republican leadership, who understand like we do that we need a change to the White House immediately and undo eight years of damage caused by Obama and Clinton to the United States around the world — to unite and to support the ticket, from the top to the bottom,” Zell said in English.
Tzvika Brot, Trump’s campaign manager in Israel, told Army Radio that it “was good he regretted [his comments], but he isn’t running for chief rabbi. There are only perfect leaders in Hollywood.”
“In both parties, the candidates were not the first choice, but the parties are standing behind them,” he added.
A Facebook page maintained by Zell for Republicans Abroad Israel also called on supporters to stick by Trump.
“When your team is under attack, you RALLY AROUND THE FLAG, YOU DON’T BURN IT AND RUN,” one posting read.
Early on in the campaign, Zell had declared that Trump was unfit to be president. He later embraced the nominee.
“I went through a process that was not dissimilar to a grieving process: You deny, then you get angry and depressed, and eventually you come to acceptance,” he told The Times of Israel in August. “And as I went through that process, I came to learn a few things that helped change my mind.”
Also Sunday, Likud MK Yehudah Glick, who has previously defended the Republican nominee, on Saturday night tweeted that he was “wrong.”
“Okay, I was wrong,” he wrote. “When from every angle it was apparent that this man was a savage, I tried to ignore it and believe despite [the criticism]. I was wrong. Mr. Trump go home. Enough is enough! Ew.”
Trump’s own wife Melania said she was offended by her husband’s “unacceptable and offensive” comments boasting about his ability to grope women as he pleases, caught on a hot mic just months after the two married in the real estate magnate’s third marriage.
But she urged American voters to support him.
“I hope people will accept his apology, as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world,” Melania Trump said in a statement.
The videotape, released Friday, forced a rare apology from a campaign already peppered by controversies over Trump’s treatment of women, roiling his Republican Party.
In the video, Trump is heard describing attempts to have sex with a married woman. He also brags about women letting him kiss and grab them because he is famous.
“When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything,” Trump says in the previously unaired comments. He adds seconds later: “Grab them by the p—-. You can do anything.”
Trump called the disclosure a “distraction,” defiantly attacking the Clintons for husband Bill Clinton’s past infidelities, and hinting strongly he would say more on the topic during Sunday’s debate in St. Louis, Missouri.
Trump denied his campaign was in crisis and predicted the controversy would blow over.
“The media and establishment want me out of the race so badly – I WILL NEVER DROP OUT OF THE RACE, WILL NEVER LET MY SUPPORTERS DOWN! #MAGA,” he said on Twitter.
The hashtag refers to his campaign slogan: “Make America great again.”
Republican reaction to the videotape came fast and furious, with some calling on the bombastic billionaire to step aside, or allow running mate Mike Pence to take the top of the ticket, others simply withdrawing their endorsement.
Pence, the governor of Indiana, said that as a husband and father he was “offended” by Trump’s remarks.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, the top Republican officeholder, said he was “sickened” by Trump’s comments, and disinvited him from a political event in Wisconsin. Pence was to go in Trump’s place, but he canceled without explanation.
By Saturday, about a dozen senators, a dozen members of the House of Representatives and three governors — all Republicans — had withdrawn their support.
Among senior party figures, Condoleezza Rice — a former secretary of state and national security adviser under president George W. Bush — said “Enough! Donald Trump should not be President. He should withdraw.”
McCain, the 2008 presidential nominee with whom Trump has sparred repeatedly but who had nonetheless made peace with supporting the candidate, said “Donald Trump’s behavior… make(s) it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy.”