Updated with video: “I’ve never said I’m a perfect person nor pretended to be someone I’m not,” Donald Trump said in a full damage control video release tonight, several hours the Washington Post released a 2005 audio and video tape of him making lewd remarks to NBC News host Billy Bush.
Trump dismissed as “a distraction” the 11-year-old tape in which Trump is heard on a hot microphone bragging to then-Access Hollywood host Bush that he gets to kiss, grab the genitals of women and “move on” them because “when you’re a star they let you do it.”
“I’ve said things I regret and the words released today on this more than a decade old video are one of them,” Trump said tonight in the newly released video that played across TV news outlets. “Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it. I was wrong and I apologize.”
The GOP presidential candidate said his travels around the country to campaign have “changed me.”
“I’ve sat with grieving mothers who have lost their children, laid-off workers whose jobs have gone to other countries, and people from all walks of life who just want a better future,” the real-estate mogul said, adding he’s been “humbled by the faith” these people have placed in him, and “I pledge to be a better man tomorrow and will never ever let you down.”
Pivoting sharply, Trump continued. “Let’s be honest. We’re living in the real world. This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we’re facing today,” he insisted.
Trump one again tried to turn the uncomfortable spotlight into which he’d walked on his political opponent and her spouse. “Bill Clinton has actually abused women, and Hillary has bullied attacked shamed and intimidated his victims,” he said, adding, “We will discuss this more in the coming days. See you at the debate on Sunday.”
Dems weren’t buying what Trump was selling tonight.
“This race is over. Tomorrow morning the money will dry up,” forecast Bob Beckel, longtime Democratic campaign manager. “Republicans will start to hide,” he predicted. “Trump has no place to go. This race effectively, as of tonight, is no longer a presidential race.”
And, just when you thought this day’s election cycle news could get any more surreal, after Trump’s video statement aired on CNN his surrogate, Scottie Nell Hughes began to defend Trump’s ’05 remarks. Republican CNN contributor Ana Navarro asked Hughes how she could defend a presidential candidate who uses the word “pussy” to talk about a women’s body part. Hughes, making Navarro’s point, scolded Navarro, telling her not to use that language on the air because her daughter was tuned in. Navarro exploded and reminded Hughes that Trump used the word too, which is the only reason she’d mentioned it, and he’s the one running for POTUS, not her. Trump certainly has changed political discourse in this country.
Tonight’s video remarks by the GOP’s choice for the White House were much more muscular than this afternoon’s statement, in which Trump attempted to write off his ’05 exchange as “locker room banter” and a “private conversation that took place many years ago,” pivoting to add, “Bill Clinton has said far worse things to me on the golf course – not even close.”
“I apologize if anyone was offended,” the candidate added this afternoon, in a statement that was widely mocked by political pundits.
The 11-year-old tape released by WaPo captures Trump in conversation will Bush, then a host of NBCU’s syndicated show Access Hollywood, as they rode a bus to the set of Days of Our Lives to tape a segment about Trump’s cameo on the soap.
In that audio, Trump discusses an attempt to have sex with an unnamed woman.
“I moved on her, actually, ” Trump, who at the time was a grandfather and had been married his current wife, Melania for a few months, is heard saying in the tape. “She was down in Palm Beach and I moved on her and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and fuck her. I’ll admit it… She was married. I moved on her very heavily…I moved on her like a bitch. I couldn’t get there, and she was married. And all of a sudden I see her and she’s now got the big phony tits and everything, she’s totally changed her looks.”
As they arrive at the the parking lot of the soap studio, Bush is heard enthusing, “Your girl’s hot as s—, in the purple,” which appears to be a reference to Days actress Arianne Zucker, waiting to escort them to the soap set.
“Whoa!” Trump chimes in. “I’m going to use some Tic Tacs in case I start kissing her,” Trump continues “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful – I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss, I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything, grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Bush, meanwhile, issued a statement this evening saying he is embarrassed by the tape and apologizing, while NBC News remains mum about the tape’s impact on Bush with the news operation he joined in May.