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Zinke Calls Trump’s Comments ‘Wrong,’ but Stops Short of Pulling Endorsement

Democratic opponent for U.S. House calls on Montana’s lone congressman to renounce support after leaked recording of lewd conversation

U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke said Saturday that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s vulgar remarks about women that emerged in a 2005 video leaked Friday were “wrong” but stopped short of withdrawing his endorsement.

“The language is shocking and wrong and should never be used, ever,” Zinke, a Republican from Whitefish, said in a statement. “Lola (Zinke’s wife) and I have talked about it and we pray he has grown from this mistake.”

In response to whether he would pull his endorsement of Trump, Zinke spokesperson Heather Swift said, “He and Lola can never vote for Hillary.”

Meanwhile, a steady stream of Republicans are renouncing their support for the GOP’s presidential nominee, in some cases calling on him to quit the race. Leaders of the establishment Republican party have embraced Trump’s candidacy with lukewarm support, but as trepidation of the candidate’s apparent self-destruction spreads, other GOP members have been abandoning him in droves.

In Montana, Zinke’s opponent in the race for Montana’s lone U.S. House seat, Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau, released the following statement after Trump’s comments about women were revealed:

“I’m calling on Congressman Zinke to denounce Trump’s violent remarks, withdraw his endorsement, and apologize for joking about Trump’s consistently offensive language,” Juneau stated. “Montana’s 500,000 mothers, daughters and sisters are watching.”

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester also condemned Trump’s behavior and issued the following statement in response to the comments:

“Mr. Trump’s comments about women are appalling. This was much worse than a mistake, it’s a pattern of behavior that demonstrates his utter lack of respect for humanity. Whether it’s a gold star family, a reporter with a disability, or women across the country, Mr. Trump has repeatedly shown a lack of respect for the American people that is unacceptable for someone who wants to be the President of the United States.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte joined in the criticism, releasing the following statement criticizing Trump’s behavior:

“As parents of a young woman, Susan and I are deeply disappointed and offended by Mr. Trump’s past remarks. As someone who is both a husband and a dad, this is not how women should be treated. Montanans are facing great uncertainty over the presidential election. This is all the more reason we need to have effective leadership at the state level.”

Zinke has consistently backed Trump as the GOP’s candidate, appearing on news programs to endorse him and telling attendees at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland to rally behind the nominee.

Trump’s remarks from 2005 were released Friday afternoon by the Washington Post, and feature Trump, apparently unaware that he was being recorded, making vulgar comments about groping women’s genitals, explaining that he attempted to sleep with a married woman, and describing his entitlement as a celebrity to making such unwanted advances.

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