LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Democratic Senate hopeful Conner Eldridge on Monday called Republican Sen. John Boozman’s refusal to withdraw his support for Donald Trump “horrifying” following the release of a 2005 tape featuring the GOP presidential nominee making lewd remarks about grabbing women.
Boozman and most top Republicans in Arkansas have shown no sign of dropping their support for Trump, despite the video that surfaced last week showing the GOP presidential nominee boasting about his abusive conduct toward women, including kissing and groping women without their consent. Boozman, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and other top Republicans in the state have condemned the remarks but haven’t withdrawn their support for the GOP nominee.
“The fact that Sen. Boozman is still supporting a man who brags about sexual assault and uses such lewd, demeaning rhetoric simply because of the ‘R’ next to Trump’s name is horrifying, and it says something remarkable about Sen. Boozman’s lack of leadership and his state of partisanship,” Eldridge, a former federal prosecutor, said in a statement.
Boozman over the weekend sharply criticized Trump’s remarks, saying anyone he heard making similar comments about his wife, daughters or granddaughters “would be shopping for a new set of teeth.” But the lawmaker hasn’t withdrawn his endorsement, and his campaign dismissed Eldridge’s criticism.
“I know the senator’s Obama-appointed opponent is very used to getting his way, and it’s laughable that he thinks he can dictate what the senator does,” campaign manager Chris Caldwell said in an email. “He might as well call on the senator to cut $700 billion from Medicare to supplement Obamacare, support amnesty and benefits to illegal aliens and guarantee a liberal majority on the Supreme Court. I guess we should just fall in line and support all of his former boss President Obama’s and Secretary Clinton’s liberal policies.”
Eldridge faces an uphill battle to unseat Boozman in Arkansas, where Republicans control all statewide and federal offices. The two are set to face off Wednesday in their only debate, which will be televised statewide.
Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, who spoke at the party’s national convention and has been floated as a potential 2020 hopeful, also didn’t drop his support of Trump.
“Donald apologized to the American people, said his remarks were embarrassing, and acknowledges that while he can’t change what he said years ago, he can change Washington now,” Cotton said in a statement. “I encourage him to keep focusing on the issues that matter to Americans.”
U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, who represents northwest Arkansas, said during a debate in Conway he wasn’t dropping his support for Trump. Womack’s only rival in the race, Libertarian Steve Isaacson, also said he’s backing the GOP nominee.
“It’s not about personalities, so I will continue to support the nominee of our party because I believe it is our party that has the best ideas to retool America and put her on the right path,” Womack told reporters after the debate.
Associated Press Writer Kelly P. Kissel contributed to this report from Conway, Arkansas.