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GOP leaders expressed disgust and outrage Friday night over lewd remarks about women made 11 years ago by Donald Trump but none went as far as to revoke their endorsements of their controversial candidate.
As Trump tried to head off some of the damage by issuing a statement apologizing "if anyone was offended" by vulgar remarks captured on a 2005 tape, the GOP's elite began putting out statements on Friday night, more than six hours after the tape first went public.
"These comments are repugnant, and unacceptable in any circumstance," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. "As the father of three daughters, I strongly believe that Trump needs to apologize directly to women and girls everywhere, and take full responsibility for the utter lack of respect for women shown in his comments on that tape."
in the recording, caught on on open mic and made public Friday, Trump describes trying to have sex with a married woman and brags about women letting him kiss and grab them because he is famous.
House Speaker Paul Ryan reportedly refused to stand on stage with Trump at a planned rally on Saturday in Wisconsin. Trump's running mate, Mike Pence will attend instead. Ryan said Friday: "I am sickened by what I heard today. Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified. I hope Mr. Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests. In the meantime, he is no longer attending tomorrow's event in Wisconsin."
Former presidential challenger and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who only recently endorsed Trump, said on Friday: "These comments are disturbing and inappropriate, there is simply no excuse for them. Every wife, mother, daughter — every person — deserves to be treated with dignity and respect."
Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer denied that party officials met on Friday night to discuss alternatives if Trump was not the party's candidate. The meeting was first tweeted about by a New York Times reporter. The reporter, Yamiche Alcindor, told MSNBC that the RNC has not yet asked Trump to pull out of the race. She said RNC rules prohibit the party from forcing him to resign.
Utah U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz went on local TV news on Friday and said he was pulling his endorsement of Trump. "I'm out," he said.
A top aide to Hillary Clinton told NBC News on Friday night that the campaign's strategy going forward is to show that the tape is just part of a pattern with Trump.
On a campaign stop in Phoenix, Clinton's running mate Tim Kaine challenged voters and members of the press to challenge every single Republican who has announced support for Trump and ask whether they think he is still qualified.
Trump's campaign CEO, Steve Bannon, was noncommittal on whether the Republican presidential candidate would quit the race, telling CNBC, "are you serious?"
Here are some of the other reactions from GOPers:
Joe Heck, Nevada: "I condemn in the strongest possible terms Donald Trump's comments. The language he used was disgraceful and there are no circumstances where such behavior is acceptable."
Rob Portman, Ohio: "The comments were offensive and wrong and he was right to apologize."
Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania: "Donald Trump's comments were outrageous and unacceptable."
Richard Burr, North Carolina: "The comments are inappropriate and completely unacceptable.
Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire: "His comments are totally inappropriate and offensive."
Mark Kirk, Illinois: "DJT is a malignant clown — unprepared and unfit to be president of the United States."
John McCain, Arizona: "There are no excuses for Donald Trump's offensive and demeaning comments. No woman should ever be victimized by this kind of inappropriate behavior. He alone bears the burden of his conduct and alone should suffer the consequences."
Marco Rubio, Florida: "Donald's comments were vulgar, egregious & impossible to justify. No one should ever talk about any woman in those terms, even in private."
Ron Johnson, Wisconsin: "Donald Trump's recent comments are completely indefensible and I refuse to even attempt to try and do so."
Jeff Flake, Arizona: "America deserves far better than @realDonaldTrump."
Mike Lee, Utah: "Donald Trump is a distraction. It's time for him to step aside so we can focus on the winning ideas that will carry Republicans through to a victory in November."
Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Washington: "I have said before that I would not hesitate to voice my disagreement with Mr. Trump when he says something that I believe should not be part of our political dialogue. It is never appropriate to condone unwanted sexual advances or violence against women. Mr. Trump must realize that it has no place in public or private conversations today or in the past."
Mitt Romney: "Hitting on married women? Condoning assault? Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America's face to the world."
Jeb Bush: "As the grandfather of two precious girls, I find that no apology can excuse away Donald Trump's reprehensible comments degrading women."
John Kasich, Ohio; "Make no mistake the comments were wrong and offensive. They are indefensible."
Jon Huntsman: "In a campaign cycle that has been nothing but a race to the bottom — at such a critical moment for our nation — and with so many who have tried to be respectful of a record primary vote, the time has come for Governor Pence to lead the ticket," he told the Salt Lake City Tribune
Gov. Gary Herbert, Utah: "Donald Trump's statements are beyond offensive & despicable. While I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton, I will not vote for Trump."
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus: "No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever."
—NBC News contributed to this report.