ATLANTA -- Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is defiant amid calls from across his own party to step down.
He emerged from Trump Tower, greeted by a large group of supporters, saying he will “never drop out of the race.”
It’s a message that comes after a leaked audio tape of him, in 2005, making lewd comments about women.
Donald Trump tweeted in capital letters on Saturday that he will never drop out of the race. His wife released a statement calling her husband’s comments unacceptable and offensive. But Melania Trump said she’s forgiven her husband – and that you should, too.
Trump has already issued an apology for the comments he made, but said he’ll have a lot more to say on the subject during Sunday night’s debate. Long-time supporter and former congressman Jack Kingston said he’ll need to.
“He has the opportunity to again apologize, to show the sincerity of that apology,” Kingston said. “To show contrition and explain why he’s still the better candidate.”
The argument will come against a backdrop of political leaders publicly chastising the nominee. On Saturday, Senator Johnny Isakson said “as a husband, father of a daughter and grandfather of five granddaughters, I am disgusted by Trump’s comments.”
Others have gone further – actually pulling support.
“We don’t want to be hypocritical and say that we’re the party of family values but then support comments that are the total opposite of those family values,” political strategist Julianne Thompson said.
Thompson said Trump’s behavior has put Republicans in a tough spot.
“I’m in a situation right now where I can’t tell my son or daughter that I want either of them to be like either presidential candidate,” she said.
But local tea party leader Debbie Dooley said she is still “totally behind Trump 110 percent.”
She pointed back at the allegations lodged against President Bill Clinton during his time in the White House which included an affair with Monica Lewinski. Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with the affair and was later acquitted by the U.S. Senate.
“I am much more disturbed by Hillary’s actions toward the women that accused her husband of sexual misconduct,” she said.
Supporters said conflicted voters need to make a checklist of what matters most.
“Donald Trump wasn’t really the family values candidate – that was Huckabee,” Kingston said. “Going through the process, Donald Trump was nominated for change in Washington, for job creation, for immigration security, for conservatives on the Supreme Court.”
Thompson said those political leaders pulling their support for Trump right now are trying to help candidates further down the ticket. She said a lot rides on his debate performance Sunday night.