Those who worked alongside Donald Trump say there are likely unheard records of lewd, disgraceful statements made by the candidate, but the impact such recordings could have on his candidacy may be limited.
Mr. Trump’s colorful, and often controversial, comments have characterized his campaign. He has made offensive remarks regarding Muslims, immigrants, the African-American community, women, and prisoners of war, many of which have led establishment Republicans to turn their backs on the GOP nominee. But his “tell it like it is” attitude has also resonated with groups of disenchanted voters, imploring them to put their trust in Trump and defend, or ignore, his alienating remarks.
The greatest crisis of Trump’s political career to date came Friday when The Washington Post released a lewd tape from 2005. In the recording, Trump makes disparaging comments about his sexual conduct with women. Top Republicans, including Arizona Sen. John McCain and Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, took a firm stance against their party’s candidate, saying they could no longer plan to support him. Many urged him to step down and cede the platform to vice presidential candidate Mike Pence.
Those who know the candidate paint vastly different pictures of him. Some have said he was professional during his tenure on the NBC reality series “The Apprentice,” but, Bill Pruitt, a former producer on the reality show, alluded to the possibility of more, and worse, recordings from the show in a tweet Saturday.
“As a producer on seasons 1 & 2 of #theapprentice I assure you: when it comes to the #trumptapes there are far worse. #justthebegininng,” he wrote.
Since, the real estate mogul’s opponents have been eager to uncover the recordings, hoping more damning comments could bury the Republican’s campaign.
But it’s not clear what effect, if any, more controversial tapes would have on Trump’s run for president. His supporters haven’t been easily swayed by the kind of scandals that have ruined presidential bids in years past. After Friday's release the tape, 74 percent of Republicans said GOP leaders should continue to support the candidate, and only 12 percent of Republicans said they’d like to see Trump end his bid for president, according to a Morning Consult/Politico poll conducted immediately after The Washington Post broke the news about the 11-year-old video.
“The results show that nearly all voters have heard about the video and most rate it negatively, but Trump’s supporters are not abandoning him right away,” Kyle Dropp, co-founder and chief research officer at Morning Consult, which conducted the poll along with Politico, said.
While some of these voters are drawn to Trump’s bold statements and aggressive temperament, others see the choice in this election as hinging on policy, not personality. As The Christian Science Monitor previously reported, evangelical Christians have surprisingly stood by the candidate, citing his stance on topics like abortion, religious freedom, economic policies, and Supreme Court justice ideologies.
This behavior, while counterintuitive at first glance, isn’t new in the world of partisan politics.
“Without overstating the case, [evangelicals’ defense of Trump] does remind me of when a lot of prominent feminists came to the defense of President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky matter,” John Green, a religion and politics expert at the University of Akron, in Ohio, told the Monitor. “They said, ‘We deplore the conduct, but look at all the positive things the Clinton administration has done for women.’ ”
With less than a month until election day, pledged Trump supporters may be unlikely to shift their allegiances, even if more material drawing the candidate’s character into question arises. And Trump himself seems to recognize the power of his loyal voting bloc.
“The polls, they say I have the most loyal people, did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any votes, okay?” Trump said in January. “It’s like incredible.”