MINNEAPOLIS — Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty called Donald Trump “unhinged” on Saturday and withdrew his support after a recording surfaced of the GOP presidential nominee making vulgar comments about women in 2005.
The Republican speaker of the Minnesota House, Kurt Daudt, also joined in a chorus of GOP officials condemning Trump’s lewd words. And four-term U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, who previously said that Trump had not earned his vote, said he would not be voting for the New York real estate magnate.
“Although I’d hoped he could have risen to the occasion, it’s clear Trump is unwilling or unable to demonstrate even the most basic level of discipline, character and judgment necessary to lead our great nation,” Pawlenty said in a statement. “He is unsound, uninformed, unhinged and unfit to be President of the United States, and I am withdrawing my support of him.”
Pawlenty had supported Marco Rubio for president before the Florida senator bowed out during the Republican primaries. Paulsen also had supported Rubio, along with former U.S. Sens. Rudy Boschwitz and Norm Coleman.
Daudt, the highest elected Republican official in Minnesota, issued a statement Saturday saying Trump’s “behavior and comments toward women are unacceptable, and disqualifying for someone who hopes to serve as Commander in Chief.”
The speaker urged Trump’s campaign to “step aside so we can defeat Hillary Clinton,” the Democratic candidate.
But while denouncing Trump’s words captured on a 2005 video obtained and released Friday by The Washington Post and NBC News, Republican members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation did not say whether he should drop out of the race — something Trump has vowed not to do.
“For months I have said Donald Trump has not earned my vote. The disgusting statements revealed last night make it clear he cannot. I will not be voting for him,” said Paulsen, who represents the western Twin Cities suburbs.
But Paulsen’s Democratic opponent, state Sen. Terri Bonoff of Minnetonka, criticized politicians who have not been willing to denounce Trump for his previous remarks.
“For any politician to do so now is way too little and way too late,” Bonoff said in a statement.
U.S. Rep. John Kline, who is retiring this year, said that Trump’s words were “offensive and disgusting.” Former radio talk show host Jason Lewis, the Republican running to succeed Kline in the southern suburbs, called Trump’s comments “clearly wrong, vile and indefensible.”
Susy Bates, the campaign manager for Lewis’ Democratic opponent Angie Craig, criticized Lewis for not withdrawing his support of Trump.
“Jason had the opportunity to demonstrate his values and — for once — show that he could actually put people before political purity. He failed,” Bates said in a statement.
Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, who was among the first Minnesota officials to support Trump, said the comments were “indefensible” and that he’s glad to see Trump “disavow and apologize” for his comments, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. Republican Stewart Mills, who is facing Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan in a rematch in northeastern Minnesota, called Trump’s remarks “crude and vulgar.”
But State DFL Chairman Ken Martin accused Minnesota Republicans of cowardice for continuing to stand by Trump’s candidacy.
“This is a moral failure of the highest order. It is more than just a lack of courage. It is pure cowardice plain and simple,” Martin said.