Donald Trump late Friday apologized for crude comments he made about women in 2005, saying in a video posted online that “I said it, I was wrong and I apologize.”
The comments recorded on a hot mic sparked a firestorm of criticism from fellow Republicans. “I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not,” Trump said.
“I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade old video are one of them,” Trump said in the video statement.
“Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong and I apologize,” he said.
Sources told NBC News earlier that various advisers and senior campaign officials argued to the candidate that Trump should go beyond his initial written statement in an effort to more clearly apologize for his words in advance of Sunday’s debate.
Newly-Surfaced Trump Audio: ‘I Did Try to (Expletive) Her, She Was Married’ 2:31
An interview or phone call to a program was also considered but the brevity and control of a planned message became the chosen option. It was decided that Trump should be the “sole messenger” and that a video could be “exactly as he wanted.”
The 2005 recording shows Trump talking about groping and kissing women — “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” he said — and describing trying to seduce a married woman.
The comments, recorded by a hot mic on an “Access Hollywood” bus, sparked sharp criticism from fellow Republicans when audio was published Friday.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement: “No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever.”
Trump repeated some campaign talking points in the video he released, and said “I pledge to be a better man tomorrow, and will never ever let you down.”
“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,” Trump said.
He then repeated an earlier written statement that pointed to Bill Clinton’s scandals, and said Hillary Clinton “has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan said he was “sickened” by Trump’s comments on women, and announced the nominee would no longer attend a high-profile scheduled event with Ryan and Priebus in Wisconsin on Saturday.
U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, withdrew his endorsement for Trump Friday. “I’m out,” Chaffetz told CNN.