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Collins stands by Trump while Reed stops short of calling for withdrawal

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Chris Collins of Clarence -- the first member of the House to endorse Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for president -- announced Saturday that he is standing by the embattled GOP candidate despite his "frankly unacceptable" comments about women in a 2005 video.

"There is no change in my support of Mr. Trump as our nominee because he remains the only candidate who will bring our jobs back, secure our borders and stand up to our enemies,” Collins said in a statement.

Both Collins and Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, issued statements criticizing Trump, but Reed -- without offering any new words of support -- stopped short of withdrawing his support of the embattled GOP nominee.

Meantime, though, Trump's lewd comments in that video were prompting big-name Republicans nationwide to abandon his candidacy Saturday morning, as former New York Gov. George E Pataki had done Friday evening.

Collins' comments were especially noteworthy because he has served as one of Trump's main surrogates, repeatedly defending him on national television.

But after the video showed Trump bragging about groping women, Collins released a statement calling Trump's comments "disappointing and frankly unacceptable."

"There is no room in our society for comments like these," Collins said.  "Mr. Trump has since apologized for his actions."

As for Reed, he issued a statement Saturday morning that said: "Women are never to be talked about in this way. As someone with eight older sisters, a wife and daughter I care deeply about, it is disappointing and offensive to hear these words. It is not right and these comments must be called out for what they are, just wrong."

Reed has long spoken out against sexual abuse. In fact, just hours before The Washington Post broke the story about Trump's lewd comments, Reed issued a press release headlined "Reed Cares for Sexual Assault Survivors," in which the congressman praised a new federal law that expands the rights of women who are sexually assaulted.

Apparently recorded without Trump's knowledge, the video shows Trump speaking with Billy Bush, then of "Access Hollywood," while arriving on the set of "Days of Our Lives," a soap opera where Trump made a cameo appearance.

The video, recorded several months after Trump married his current wife, Melania, shows his bragging about his advances on an unnamed woman.

“I did try and ---- her. She was married,” Trump said.

Trump also said his status as a "star" helped him to get away with his advances toward women.

“Grab them by the -----,” Trump said in a reference to female genitalia. “You can do anything.”

Pataki, who served three terms as governor of New York, was one of 16 Republicans to run for president in the primaries that ended with Trump, a boisterous New York businessman, as the GOP nominee.

The former New York governor -- known for his civil, low-key approach to politics -- never publicly endorsed Trump and did not appear at the Republican convention in Cleveland where Trump was nominated.

Pataki has remained largely silent on the presidential race in recent months. But in endorsing Ohio Gov. John Kasich for the nomination in April, Pataki said: "I don't think Donald Trump should be president of the United States. I don't think he's going to be president of the United States and if he's going to be our nominee I fear he's going to drive the Republican Party off a cliff.”

Trump apologized for his 2005 comments in a late-night video Friday, but that did little to stop a stampede of prominent Republicans from disavowing his candidacy Saturday morning.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican in a tight re-election battle, said she would not vote for Trump. Sen. Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia said Trump "should re-examine his candidacy," and Rep. Joe Heck, the Republican candidate for Senate from Nevada, said Trump should step down.

So did Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, who is also facing a tough re-election battle, and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.

And former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who ran for the GOP nomination against Trump but later endorsed him, released a statement asking Trump to withdraw and for the Republican National Committee to replace him with Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, currently the vice presidential nominee.

The idea of a Trump withdrawal is fraught with difficulty, though, because early voting has started in some states and the presidential ballot is already set in many others.

And for his part, Trump showed no signs of wanting to leave the race.

“I’d never withdraw. I’ve never withdrawn in my life,” Trump told The Washington Post Saturday morning. “No, I’m not quitting this race. I have tremendous support.”

Trump backers in Buffalo signaled that they would take a hardball approach to the controversy, trying to turn the focus away from Trump and toward the sexual scandals of former President Bill Clinton, the husband of the current Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"#BillClintonIsARapist," GOP consultant Michael R. Caputo tweeted Saturday morning.

And late Friday, WBEN radio right-winger Tom Bauerle took to Facebook to blame the revelations about Trump on the "Clinton media machine."

"This is a Clinton blunder, given her husband's serial sex assaults and not just words," Bauerle wrote. "Of course women throw themselves at Trump, as they did the Beatles, Elvis etc. Ever see the babes who pursue local athletes? My God, even the ugliest guy."

Bill Clinton has faced allegations of womanizing -- and worse -- throughout his political career.

Juanita Broaddrick, a nurse, long has maintained that Bill Clinton raped her at a hotel in Little Rock, Ark., while he was serving as Arkansas attorney general in 1978. Clinton was never charged, and his attorney has denied Broaddrick's claim.

Most famously, Clinton was impeached during his second term as president for lying about an affair with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern.

email: jzremski@buffnews.com

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