State Politics

Otter, Labrador bash Trump’s remarks but say he’s still got their vote

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and wife Lori at a Republican election night party in Boise last May.
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and wife Lori at a Republican election night party in Boise last May. kgreen@idahostatesman.com

After keeping mum for several days, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and other state Republicans Tuesday denounced the vulgar remarks about women Donald Trump made in a 2005 video leaked last week, but they accepted the candidate’s apology and said they would continue to support him as the only viable choice for Republicans.

On Saturday, U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo called on Trump to step aside so that Mike Pence could be the GOP standard-bearer, and U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson said he would not vote for Trump.

Other Idaho GOP leaders did not go that far.

Otter called Trump’s comments “unacceptable and unfortunate,” but said he accepted the candidate’s apology “at face value” and called him the “best candidate” for president. His full statement:

“There’s no question that Donald Trump’s comments about women are unacceptable and unfortunate. But I accept his apology and his contrition at face value. My continuing support for Mr. Trump’s candidacy is solely focused on ensuring that the best candidate is elected president of the United States.”

I accept his apology and his contrition at face value.

Gov. Butch Otter, on Donald Trump

In a recording leaked Friday, Trump boasted about kissing and groping women in a conversation with the host of the TV show “Access Hollywood.” Trump apologized and dismissed his remarks as “locker-room talk.”

Nine Republican governors, including Utah’s Gary Herbert and Nevada’s Brian Sandoval, no longer support Trump; 21 Republican governors do. Michigan’s Rick Snyder never endorsed him.

Other comments from top state Republicans:

House Speaker Scott Bedke: “To be honest with you, I have not decided, but there’s one thing I am sure of: I won’t vote for Hillary Clinton,” the Oakley Republican said. Trump’s “remarks and what-not are completely unjustified and inexcusable,” he said. He added: “I don’t think anyone should be overly surprised.”

I have not decided, but there’s one thing I am sure of: I won’t vote for Hillary Clinton.

House Speaker Scott Bedke

Bedke noted that “there’s a pragmatic side to this,” citing his concern over Supreme Court appointments and other policy considerations.

Senate Pro Tem Brent Hill: The Republican Senate leader from Rexburg added his remarks Thursday. He said he could not defend Trump, citing the candidate’s “pattern of incivility and disrespect for others,” but said Clinton’s ideology “is completely contrary to the principles I have always defended.”

I cannot allow my disdain for the man to take precedence over my love for my country.

Senate Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg

“I cannot allow my disdain for the man to take precedence over my love for my country,” Hill said. “I do not want my grandchildren to become like Donald Trump. But he is the only thing we have that has any chance to keep Hillary Clinton from becoming our next president.”

Rep. Raul Labrador: In a statement Tuesday, he called Trump’s comments “indefensible” but said Clinton “is a greater threat to our national well-being than Donald Trump.”

Despite his many flaws, Donald Trump represents the best chance to change the way Washington works.

Rep. Raul Labrador

“This campaign has never been about Donald Trump; it has been about the millions of people hungering and thirsting for new leadership,” he said.

Labrador’s Democratic opponent in November, James Piotrowski, had earlier chastised him for keeping mum about Trump.

GOP State Chairman Steve Yates: Like Otter, Yates cited Trump’s apology and emphasized the policy differences between Republicans and Democrats that continue to make Trump the only strategic option for party faithful.

“How our daily lives will be affected by the policies these nominees advocate should be first and foremost in the minds of Idaho voters as they cast their ballots,” Yates said in a statement. “The choice should be clear: Republican policies align best with Idaho values.”

The fundamental difference between the Republican and Democrat policy direction could not be clearer or more consequential.

Idaho State Republican Committee Chairman Steve Yates

Yates called Trump’s remarks “appalling” and said women “should never be talked about in such terms.”

“No one has condoned or defended the comments, nor has he asked anyone to,” he said. “Not his family, not the campaign, not the Idaho Republican Party.”

Two Idaho Republicans who dumped Trump

Crapo initially called on Trump to apologize immediately for his “outrageous” comments, but went further Saturday, formally withdrawing his support and telling Trump to leave the race.

“This is not a decision that I have reached lightly, but his pattern of behavior has left me no choice,” Crapo said. “His repeated actions and comments toward women have been disrespectful, profane and demeaning.”

Simpson said: “While I’ve never endorsed Donald Trump, I find his recent comments about women deplorable,” he said. “In my opinion, he has demonstrated that he is unfit to be president and I cannot support him.”

Bill Dentzer: 208-377-6438, @IDSBillD

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