Former Republican presidential candidate John McCain and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have withdrawn support for Donald Trump after his inappropriate remarks about women became public.
At least a dozen Republicans have said they will not be voting for the New York billionaire, since the comments emerged on October 7.
Donald Trump says he will never drop out of the race to be president and will never let his supporters down.
He has been under pressure after a tape from 2005 of him bragging about groping and kissing women was broadcast.
John McCain said Donald Trump’s comments “make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy”, while Condoleeza Rice said: “Enough! Donald Trump should not be President. He should withdraw.”
Image source U.S. Marine Corps
Another senior Republican, New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte said in a statement: “I cannot and will not support a candidate for president who brags about degrading and assaulting women.”
Kelly Ayotte – who faces a competitive race for re-election – said she would not vote for Hillary Clinton but instead would “write in” Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s vice-presidential running mate, on her ballot paper.
Several other Republicans also said they would vote for Mike Pence.
Donald Trump himself stressed that there was “zero chance I’ll quit”, adding that he was getting “unbelievable” support.
In a tweet, the Republican candidate said: “The media and establishment want me out of the race so badly.”
Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, issued a statement on October 8 saying: “The words my husband used are unacceptable and offensive to me.”
Melania Trump said her husband had “the heart and mind of a leader”.
Mike Pence said he was “offended” by Donald Trump’s video, but grateful he had expressed remorse and apologized to the American people.
“We pray for his family,” he said in a statement.
House Speaker Paul Ryan had originally invited Donald Trump to attend a campaign event in Wisconsin this weekend but rescinded his invitation, saying he was “sickened” by what he had heard. Mike Pence was due to go in his running mate’s place, but declined to attend.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump’s comments in the tape “horrific”.
In the recorded comments, which date back to 2005 when Donald Trump was appearing as a guest on a soap, he says “you can do anything” to women “when you’re a star”.
Donald Trump released a video statement apologizing for the comments.
His 2005 comments, posted by the Washington Post, overshadowed the release of transcripts of Hillary Clinton’s speeches to private events, by the WikiLeaks.
Donald Trump had married his third wife Melania a few months before the recording. She said on October 8: “I hope people will accept his apology, as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world.”
The second TV debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will take place on Sunday evening, October 9, in St Louis.
Donald Trump recently said he would not bring up stories about Bill Clinton’s infidelities in the debate, after previously threatening to do so.
However, in his video apology, he attacked the former president directly: “Bill Clinton has actually abused women, and Hillary has bullied, attacked and shamed his victims.”
Jeb Bush has said he will not vote for his former rival Donald Trump in November’s presidential election.
The former Florida governor joins several high-profile Republicans who have refused to support Donald Trump’s campaign.
On May 5, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he “was not ready” to support Donald Trump, but will meet him next week.
Breaking with tradition, Jeb Bush’s father and brother – both former presidents – also withheld support.
Some Republicans have said they would back Democrat Hillary Clinton but Jeb Bush ruled that out.
He said: “Donald Trump has not demonstrated that temperament or strength of character.
“And, he is not a consistent conservative. These are all reasons why I cannot support his candidacy.”
Jeb Bush had previously pledged to support the eventually Republican nominee while he was still a candidate for president.
Republican Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina also announced on May 6 that he would not vote for Donald Trump.
He told CNN: “I think Donald Trump is going to places where very few people have gone and I’m not going with him.”
Donald Trump swiftly responded to Lindsay Graham who also was a Republican candidate for president: “While I will unify the party, Lindsey Graham has shown himself to be beyond rehabilitation. And like the voters who rejected him, so will I.”
Many Republican candidates for lower offices are concerned about running on the same ballot as Donald Trump, who has alienated minority voters through his rhetoric about building a wall with Mexico and banning US entry to Muslim travelers.
Many Americans choose to vote for either the Democrat or Republican Party, rather than weighing the individual candidates.
Republican representatives fear that voters who oppose Donald Trump may eschew the Republican Party all together.
Some Republicans have begun to openly call for the party to oppose the presumptive nominee and to work to independently elect a conservative candidate, such as Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, who has indicated that he will not be supporting Donald Trump.
Donald Trump’s speech in Burlingame, California, has been delayed after hundreds of protesters broke through barricades and threw eggs at police outside a hotel where the GOP front-runner was due to address the state’s Republican convention.
Because of the protest, Donald Trump had to enter the hotel via a rear entrance.
His rallies have been dogged by violence.
On April 28, a police car had its windows smashed as Donald Trump spoke inside a hall in the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. Some 20 arrests were made.
The Trump campaign had to cancel several rallies in March after hundreds of protesters threatened to disrupt events in Chicago and St Louis.
Before his speech on April 29, news helicopters showed Donald Trump and his security detail crossing a motorway before entering the hotel via a side door.
On stage, Donald Trump joked about the protesters, saying “that was not the easiest entrance I ever made.”
“I felt like I was crossing the border,” he said, and that he walked through “dirt and mud” to get to the building outside of San Francisco.
Many of the protesters outside Donald Trump’s speech were arguing against his positions on immigration. The billionaire has advocated building a border wall with Mexico which he says Mexico would pay for.
Donald Trump has also referred to Mexicans as “rapists” and criminals responsible for bringing illegal drugs into the US.
The New York businessman is extremely unpopular among Latino voters and California has a large Mexican-American population.
Protests are expected to continue until the California primary is held on June 7.
Donald Trump has called himself the Republican “presumptive nominee” after a string of primary wins.
In terms of delegate support, Donald Trump is far ahead of his nearest rivals, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and John Kasich, the governor of Ohio.