Donald Trump supporters who showed up Saturday for a Republican unity rally in southeast Wisconsin said they are standing by the presidential nominee despite newly revealed audio of him making lewd and sexually charged comments.
Trump was supposed to be the headliner at the annual “Fall Fest” event in Elkhorn, but House Speaker Paul Ryan said Friday night that Trump would not be attending after news of his vulgar comments shook the presidential race and Republican leaders called on Trump to quit.
Trump’s running mate Mike Pence was to replace him at the event bringing together Ryan, Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Ron Johnson and other prominent Wisconsin Republicans. But Pence canceled Saturday, just hours before the rally was to begin.
Trump supporters at the rally were defiant, much like the candidate himself who said Saturday he would “never” drop out of the race.
“Trump is a great man,” said Scott Reese, a 40-year-old plumber wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat. “We all make mistakes. … If everybody understands people make mistakes, then this shouldn’t have any effect.”
Jean Stanley, a 50-year-old woman from New Berlin, Wisconsin, came to the rally wearing a pink T-shirt with bold, black lettering that said “Wisconsin Women Love Trump.”
“He’s a real human,” Stanley said. “It was a long time ago. We all have something in our past. He was a Hollywood icon then.”
Julie Marso, from Milwaukee, said she still supports Trump.
“You should vote according to the issues facing this country, not the kind of dirt you can dig up on people,” she said.
Orville Seymer, a 62-year-old conservative activist wearing a red, white and blue American flag hat, said the “mildly vulgar comments from 11 years ago” are getting a disproportionate amount of media attention, especially compared to Clinton’s “numerous scandals.”
As for Republicans who have abandoned Trump, Seymer said: “I don’t think they wanted to support him in the first place.”
Trump’s comments were made in a 2005 video obtained and released Friday by The Washington Post and NBC News. In the video, Trump is heard describing his attempts to have sex with a married woman. He also brags about women letting him kiss and grab them because he is famous.
“When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything,” Trump says in the previously unaired comments. He adds seconds later: “Grab them by the p—-. You can do anything.”
Ryan said Friday he was “sickened” by Trump’s remarks. Johnson and Walker also put out statements denouncing the Republican candidate.
Stanley called Ryan a “traitor” for denouncing Trump.
“I think Paul Ryan acted too fast,” she said.
Dennis Karbowski, a trucker from Elkhorn, Wisconsin, echoed that sentiment.
“He’s afraid it’s going to tarnish the image of the Republican Party,” Karbowski said of Ryan. “Mr. Trump is human. We’ve all said those things. … Either you believe in your party or you don’t. I don’t like Judases.”