Donald Trump said Saturday there is "zero chance" he will drop out of the race for president of the United States as the Republican party candidate faced a crisis in his campaign touched off by his own words about women and sex in a recording from 2005.
“I never, ever give up,” he is quoted as saying in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "The support I’m getting is unbelievable, because Hillary Clinton is a horribly flawed candidate."
Concerning the recording, which Trump initially said contained nothing more than "locker room banter," he said "people get it," adding that his wife and daughter stood behind him.
Trump apologized early Saturday for bragging about groping women and his own sexual prowess, saying "I was wrong." He said anyone who knows him would recognize that "these words don't reflect who I am."
The recording is audio only of a conversation with a celebrity gossip television show host while on the way to a Hollywood studio where he was to make a cameo appearance on a soap opera. He was the host of the television show The Apprentice at the time.
Among the offensive comments were Trump's reference to grabbing women "by the pussy" and the "phony tits" of a married woman he had been attracted to.
The vulgar comments opened him up to new and even harsher criticism from friend and foe alike.
"This is horrific," his opponent, Hillary Clinton, said on Twitter. "We cannot allow this man to become president."
His running mate, Mike Pence, said he "cannot defend" Trump's comments.
"As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump in the 11-year-old video released yesterday," Pence says on Twitter. "I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them."
Several Republican supporters, including members of Congress who have stood by the candidate through previous indiscretions, withdrew their support overnight.
Reince Priebus, head of the Republican Party, condemned the comments, while Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, said he was "sickened" by them. Ryan also said Trump would not appear with him on Saturday at an event in Wisconsin at which Trump was to be the guest of honour.
Among Democrats, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid issued a statement that was among the harshest. He called on every Republican elected official to revoke their endorsements of Trump and "state that they will not vote for their party's nominee, who has been caught on tape bragging about routinely sexually assaulting women."
The recording, first released by the Washington Post, came to light at a critical time for Trump just two days before he faces his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton in their second face-to-face debate. It stands to further lower his ratings among women voters - a group he is already struggling to win over.
It also dilutes his efforts to make a campaign issue out of Clinton's marriage and the sex scandal her husband was impeached over in 1998.
But Trump's video apology issued early Saturday tried to draw a contrast between himself and Bill Clinton.
"I've said some foolish things, but there's a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women, and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims," he said.