Branstad, Ernst, Grassley Continue to Back Trump Despite “Grab Them by the Pussy” Remark

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Screenshot/via Washington Post

There appears to be no low to which Iowa’s top Republicans won’t stoop to stand by their party’s presidential nominee — even in light of the revelation yesterday by the Washington Post that, in 2005, Donald Trump was caught on a hot mic discussing how he could get away with sexually assaulting women because he’s a celebrity.

In a video obtained by the Post, Trump’s voice can be heard as he speaks about pursuing women with Access Hollywood host (and George W. Bush’s cousin) Billy Bush. After discussing how he tried to score with a married woman (“I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married. I did try and fuck her. She was married.”), Trump advises Bush, “Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” He then adds, “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

The vulgar comments were enough for some Republicans, at long last, to break ranks with Trump. New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte was one of them:

But in Iowa, it apparently still isn’t enough to jump ship, not even for Sen. Joni Ernst, a former member of the Iowa National Guard who’s made combating sexual assault in the military a major focus of her freshman term in office. On Twitter, Ernst did condemn Trump’s remarks…

…but, as the Des Moines Register‘s Jason Noble reported today, an Ernst spokeswoman ignored his question asking whether the senator continued to support Trump.

Likewise, Noble reported, Sen. Chuck Grassley condemned Trump’s comments but also wouldn’t say if he would stop supporting the GOP nominee. “The comments were terrible and shameful, and this kind of talk about our fellow human beings shouldn’t be acceptable to anyone,” Grassley said in a statement to the Register. “His apology was necessary and appropriate.”

Gov. Terry Branstad, whose son Eric serves as the candidate’s state campaign director, tends to dodge questions about Trump’s more questionable qualities. But he was more open about Trump’s advice on sexually assaulting women, admitting that he still supports his party’s nominee. “Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. [Kim] Reynolds believe the words and comments that were made were reprehensible and offensive,” spokesman Ben Hammes told the paper before he was pressed to add, “Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds think these comments were reprehensible and offensive but support the vision Donald Trump and Mike Pence have for a stronger, more secure America.”

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.