US Senator John McCain becomes most senior Republican to withdraw his support for Donald Trump

US Senator John McCain arrives on a visit at a migrant center near the village of Adasevci, Serbia on Feb 12, 2016.
US Senator John McCain arrives on a visit at a migrant center near the village of Adasevci, Serbia on Feb 12, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) - Republican Senator John McCain, a former presidential nominee, joined the cavalcade of Republicans withdrawing their support for GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump in the wake of Friday's revelation that the businessman and reality TV star discussed aggressive sexual behaviour towards women.

Sen McCain, the party's 2008 presidential nominee, became the most senior Republican so far to abandon Mr Trump amid the biggest political crisis of his presidential candidacy. The party fears that Mr Trump's toxicity, particularly among female voters, could hurt the entire GOP ballot.

"There are no excuses for Donald Trump's offensive and demeaning comments in the just released video; no woman should ever be victimized by this kind of inappropriate behavior. He alone bears the burden of his conduct and alone should suffer the consequences," Sen McCain said in a statement.

Sen McCain now joins the entire Bush family and Mr Mitt Romney in not supporting Mr Trump, meaning the party's presidential nominees in 1988, 1992, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 do not back Mr Trump.

Sen McCain had come under fire earlier on Saturday (Oct 8) from his opponent, Democratic Representative Ann Kirpatrick, whose campaign has been flailing of late as Sen McCain solidified his lead into the low double digits in what has been the most difficult election since his first race for Senate in 1986.

Democrats accused Sen McCain, who had been on the receiving end of many sharp attacks from Mr Trump, of supporting the controversial nominee just to get through his Aug 30 primary against a Trump supporter.

 
 

However, Sen McCain said in an late August interview he had "no plans" to dump Mr Trump once the primary was over, and after barely exceeding 50 per cent in that Aug 30 ballot, the 80-year-old incumbent had spent most of time accusing Ms Kirkpatrick of being too liberal for the right-leaning state while studiously avoiding discussing Mr Trump.

These latest comments, from a hot microphone during the taping of a 2005 TV appearance, were the final straw for Sen McCain, whose wife Cindy has devoted much of her time in the family foundation to women's rights, particularly abuse of women in Third World nations.

Here's the full McCain statement: "In addition to my well known differences with Donald Trump on public policy issues, I have raised questions about his character after his comments on Prisoners of War, the Khan Gold Star family, Judge Curiel and earlier inappropriate comments about women. Just this week, he made outrageous statements about the innocent men in the Central Park Five case.

"As I said yesterday, there are no excuses for Donald Trump's offensive and demeaning comments in the just released video; no woman should ever be victimised by this kind of inappropriate behaviour. He alone bears the burden of his conduct and alone should suffer the consequences.

"I have wanted to support the candidate our party nominated. He was not my choice, but as a past nominee, I thought it important I respect the fact that Donald Trump won a majority of the delegates by the rules our party set. I thought I owed his supporters that deference.

"But Donald Trump's behaviour this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy. Cindy, with her strong background in human rights and respect for women fully agrees with me in this.

"Cindy and I will not vote for Donald Trump. I have never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate and we will not vote for Hillary Clinton. We will write in the name of some good conservative Republican who is qualified to be President."