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Minnesota Republicans on why they're standing by Trump: 'These were words'

Donald Trump speaking at a campaign rally in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, on Monday.
REUTERS/Mike Segar
Donald Trump speaking at a campaign rally in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, on Monday.

A weekend poll by the Wall Street Journal and NBC news shows that Hillary Clinton took an 11-point lead over Donald Trump in the wake of the release of a recording of vulgar remarks Trump made in 2005.   

Trump’s remarks were so juvenile and lewd that dozens of GOP candidates — including Minnesota House speaker Kurt Daudt, Congressman Eric Paulsen, and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty — jumped the Trump ship, and media outlets proclaimed a party in free fall

But that may not tell the whole story. That same WSJ poll showed that 67 percent of Republicans believe the party should continue to support Trump as the nominee.  In that group, at least philosophically, is Minnesota Republican Party national committeewoman Janet Beihoffer and fourth district Trump chairman Brian LeClair. 

I asked them to explain their continued support.

MinnPost: What was your reaction to the recording’s obscene language and intimations of physical assault that Donald Trump described as “locker room talk?”

Janet Beihoffer: My reaction is, it’s despicable. It’s disgusting. But it's locker room talk. People say it’s not presidential but I keeping getting down to this. These were words. Bill Clinton actually did stuff and the women whom he touched inappropriately or whatever actually said you can’t do that and they went after him. Look at what Hillary said against the women who made accusations against her husband. Her words were just as degrading to some women as Trump’s words. 

Brian LeClair: I’m uncomfortable talking about that video. I don’t want to defend it.  It’s right that Donald Trump apologized. I thought he was very sincere.  

MP: But the recording isn’t enough for you to renounce your support or call for Trump to step down?

JB: He’s flawed, flawed, flawed. But, I know some of the people advising him, from the National Review and the Heritage Foundation. He’s trying to listen. I look at Hillary and I see Supreme Court nominees and appellate court nominees and trade association [favors] and U.S. relations worldwide. So much of politics is the lesser of two evils. None of us is going to get exactly what we want.   

BL: It’s more than just the alternative. There are also those of us who think Mr. Trump can be an incredible force of change. It’s not just the lesser of two evils.     

MP: Some Minnesota Republican leaders — Daudt, Pawlenty, Paulsen — don’t agree with your assessment. Were they wrong to renounce their support?

Janet Beihoffer
Janet Beihoffer

JB: I wouldn’t say it’s wrong. I think they spoke too quickly because there is so much more at stake and we can’t afford Hillary. If I were in that position I would have given a political answer like in Iowa. [At a Sunday event, Republican Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley and GOP Gov. Terry Branstad condemned Trump’s remarks but remained supportive of his candidacy.] They didn’t condone it. They condemned it, but. Our guys didn’t do the “Yeah, but … ” which is four more years of Obama policies.  

BL: I don’t want to pick a fight with them. I disagree with the speaker’s leadership on that campaign tactic, but I still believe in Reagan’s 11th commandment — that we should not speak ill of one another. I guess my reaction is this: Donald Trump never had a lot of party leadership support in the primaries. He spoke to the issues on the minds of rank and file voters. If that cycle is going to repeat itself in the general election, I’m very comfortable.  

MP: What are you hearing from other grass roots Republicans?

JB: I’m not hearing a lot of about anti-Trump. I’m not hearing that from the party or state executive committee people. They may just sit back and not vote for him.  

BL: The emails are flying fast and furious this morning – a lot of relief about how [Trump performed in the debate Sunday night] and how the next four weeks can play out. The energy is back in the Trump campaign.

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Comments (35)

People say it’s not

People say it’s not presidential but I keeping getting down to this. These were words.

The Republican Party has become nothing more than a party of words, words they claim they don't even mean.

These were words?

these were actions, not just words.

Words matter

“…a lot of relief about how [Trump performed in the debate Sunday night] and how the next four weeks can play out. The energy is back in the Trump campaign…”

“Relief?!?!?”

“Energy”!?!?”

Mr. LeClair’s response points to a frightening trend in the electorate and the process by which we select our presidential nominees. There's at least some evidence that establishment Democrats did what they could to stack the deck against Bernie Sanders, so an argument could be made, and surely has been made in some circles, that Hillary is the Democratic nominee by way of a process that's flawed. I don’t believe such an argument can be made in Trump's case. He won the Republican nomination as straightforwardly as any major party nominee has won the nomination in the more than half-century that I've been old enough to vote, and with little or no support from the Republican establishment.

THAT, Ms. Brucato, is terrifying.

Trump's ascent has brought into the spotlight a sizable segment of the electorate who apparently would happily follow a strong man down the rabbit hole of totalitarianism to a destination that I don't even want to think about. People who blithely assume that the United States would not – indeed, could not – follow a neofascist leader into that abyss are either not paying attention to what's going on around them, or they're delusional.

Casual misogyny, racism, a seemingly-unending stream of outright lies, mean-spirited commentary about the disabled and other public statements are emphatically NOT “just words.” Words matter. Trump rarely is speaking from a script – those statements that so many Republicans disavow are who he is – and the racist, misogynist, etc., person he is happens to be the presidential candidate of one of our two major political parties. With all the prejudicial, sociopathic baggage he carries around with him, Republicans in droves nonetheless voted to make him their nominee. We've never before had a presidential candidate suggest that, if elected, he'll have his opponent jailed. It's the stuff of every dictatorship the modern world has ever seen, and the fact that some portion of that St. Louis audience couldn't restrain itself enough to keep from hooting aloud in support of the man who suggested it tells me all I need to know about what's now being called the "alt-right."

The Republican Party, which has billed itself for at least a couple of generations as the party of decency and morality, has revealed itself, and many of its supporters, to be the party of bigotry and ethical bankruptcy. Of course Trump should not be president. He should not be in government at any level, anywhere. We should not knowingly elect a sociopath to any office, and "sociopath" is an accurate label for the Republican presidential nominee. When Republican candidates at the state and local levels continue to support this man it makes clear to anyone who cares to look that their morality and high-minded support of democratic principles is sheer sophistry. It's a lie.

That so many in the electorate are willing to overlook – or even endorse – the variety of prejudices that Mr. Trump has proudly displayed speaks volumes, unfortunately, about the morality and ethics of those same Trump supporters. Clinton went too far in declaring half of Trump's supporters to be "a basket of deplorables" – plenty of otherwise-decent people hold prejudiced views about race, gender, income, etc. – but "deplorable" is nonetheless an accurate judgment of those prejudices that Trump and his supporters are willing to embrace.

Thanks!

Thanks, Ray, for taking the time to write what so many of us want to say. You have a very necessary voice that needs to be heard.

Trump is a disaster but at least folks

who lean more conservative can call him out on it. If words matter, as Ray started his post on, why aren't folks on the left concerned with Hillary saying she has 2 positions, one private, one public? How about the fact that she flat out lied about her email or the Benghazi situation, do those words matter? I remember when Obama claimed you would save $2,500 on your health insurance and you could keep your doctor, those of us with pencils and paper looked at the numbers, said no way, then were promptly called racists. Did those words matter?

There is no defending Trump and his comments to Billy Bush and GOP'ers are agreeing with that. What has constantly amazed me is the flat out defending lies by the Left with no sense of shame. I have actually heard TV personalities say her lies are different than his lies.... Ok... Hello pot, I'm the kettle and you look a bit black to me (no that is not a racist comment)

Two positions

Every negotiator has 2 positions. That is neither a shock nor a shame. It's the way negotiations are done. If negotiators started out with what they wanted, they would quickly end up with nothing. I'm afraid that the "TWO POSITIONS" cry isn't going to make up for the "I get to assault women because I'm famous." It's not just words, it's a confession.

Corrections

Hillary Clinton did not lie about her emails or about Benghazi.
Barack Obama made a MISTAKE in his statement about keeping your own doctor. When he found out it was not correct, he publicly acknowledged it and apologized.
Health insurance is not too expensive because of the AFFORDABLE CARE ACT but because insurance companies are still greedy.
We need to proceed with further health insurance reform, not repeal the Act. As Secretary Clinton stated in the second Presidential debate, the ACA ensures that insurance companies can't refuse you insurance because you have a pre-existing condition, can't put lifetime caps on how much they'll pay, and people up to 26 years old can stay on their parents' insurance.
Plus 20 million more people are now covered than before the ACA. It's a good start.

An old addage:

Something about when one needs to keep explaining stuff. Better to ignore press bait and get on with one's message. Democrats are very good at this. Republicans need to be reminded.

From

From Politifact:

(quote)

Trump said that Hillary Clinton "viciously" attacked women who accused Bill Clinton of abuse.

Bill Clinton certainly has been accused of sexual assault and having affairs. The record shows Hillary Clinton played a role in defending her husband, and that the Clintons’ first presidential campaign deployed tough tactics to defend against stories of consensual sex.

But in the cases of alleged abuse by Broaddrick, Willey and Jones, Hillary Clinton was largely silent. The words she allegedly had with Broaddrick are subject to interpretation. Approving the release of Willey’s letters does qualify as an attack, but using a person’s words against them is a fairly tame tactic. And Clinton did not attack Jones directly.

Overall, we rate the claim Mostly False.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/oct/10/donald-tr...

BEST PHRASE OF THE DAY:

" Donald Trump supporters have totally lost touch with reality, they are literally face down in the Kool Aid"!-----Mac Stipanovich, long-time GOP lobbyist from Florida

(end quote)

Gold Medal Performance !

Logical and ethical gymnastics of Republican políticos are fantastic ! This should become an Olympic event -,they'd walk away with all the hardware.

Brian's logic leaves me speechless - "I believe in Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment - speak no evil about fellow Republicans" So he supports Donald Trump ?!?!?

Only point I can agree with is that this thinking is "flawed, flawed, flawed !"

Saying that it's "just locker room talk" is no excuse

I'd like to ask Janet "But it's locker room talk" Beihoffer why this is an acceptable excuse?

No one should say those horrible things about women privately or in public!

A wise sage said that what you do or say when you think no one is looking is the best characterization of who you really are.

Nearly 8 years ago

Nearly 8 years ago, candidate Obama what right. He said if he won there would be a war in the Republican Party. Welcome to the war party's war. No victory in sight.

Aren't You Ignoring a Few Things?

I love the "just words" and "very sincere" mental gymnastics the Republicans are exhibiting. All is forgiven and we can just ignore all of the other things: the misogyny going back years, the cheating of people, the constant lies, the bigotry, the bullying that comes from the playbook of a 15 year old, the narcissism that is truly frightening, and the disregard for the Constitution. I could go on, but you get the point. These are the words of a 60 year old who has reveled in and cultivated the image of playboy over the years. It's amazing that this seems to be the straw that finally broke the back of his campaign after dozens of actions and statements that would have wrecked anyone else's campaign. They might be "just words" but they finally have woken up a lot of people to what a crass, shallow, and dangerous buffoon Trump is.

Thanks for your clarity,

Thanks for your clarity, Mike. You were a wise teacher in my youth and are still a wise man today.

I look at Donald ...

... and I see Supreme Court nominees. Words matter.

Another Point

It has been pointed out in other places that women (and men) who have been cheated on get angry not only at their spouse but oftentimes just as angry at the "seducer". Expecting Hillary Clinton to be sympathetic to or supportive of Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky defies human nature.

Cindy Brucato missed the main point...

Cindy Brucato is one.of your bestbqriters and interviewers but even she missed the main issue for 2016. Both the Democratic Party through Bernie Sanders and the Republican Party through Donald Trump were anti Washington DC and political elites. Many voters are tired of the two parties fighting each other and not caring for our country, our society, our Constitution and what made America great.

Not Caring!

"Many voters are tired of the two parties fighting each other and not caring for our country, our society, our Constitution and what made America great." What reason is there to think that Donald Trump cares for "our country, our society?" He seems to have a pretty hazy grasp of the Constitution (although he's a big fan of Article XII, I hear). I also shudder to think of the vision of a great America that would be imagined by a man with so many civil rights complaints racked up against him.

Trump is all about fighting, and fighting for the most petty, trivial reasons. People who voted for him because they thought he was the answer were fooling only themselves.

Language matters.

Just words matter. Words that are just. Words about justice. To say "It's just words" denigrates what language is. Language is what separates humans from beasts of the field. The gift of language is in the ability of words to create community, civilization, education, business, government, and religion.

Words matter. If words don't matter in politics then ethics (beliefs) and morals (actions) and judgment (wisdom) don't matter. Of course words matter. Words define who we are, what we believe, and what we do.

So, to say "Just words" as if words don't matter is total nonsense. it is through language that we make judgments about what is true and false.

Praise and blame are announced by speech and the written word. So, words matter.

Words can reveal what character is, what intentions are. Words matter, Word makeidentifications. Words create symbols, metaphors, structures of meaning.

The words of the law matter. Words unite and divide. Words create a social identity, i.e. The Declaration of Independence; the Constitution of the United States of America; the classics of Western Civilization found in philosophy and science; political discourse. Even in jokes do words matter for a good humor, which we all need for comic relief when things get too stressful.

Will words matter when...

...they put out a tape of Trump using the N word in one of his "private" conversations? It is seldom that a person utters words one way and lives a totally separate way unless that way is really bad. Like Gingrich and others condemning Bill Clinton's affairs while living affairs of their own. But when the words are bad, the life behind them is usually bad or worse.

'These were words'

Uh...they were words describing actions that he'd taken in the past. Unless they have footage of things that Bill Clinton did, that's all just words too. The only thing that linked Osama Bin Laden to the events of September 11, 2001 were words.

Speak sense.

Yes

Even assuming they're not confessions of past behavior, they're confessions of what he believes his right is over the rights of women in general. If he did not actually violate women in the manner he said he did and can, he made it clear that he believes he SHOULD. The scary truth is that he treats everyone with the same contempt, men or women, unless they can be of service to him. And if that service is a paid service, he might just cheat them out of that little respect.

How come?

Just a quick question: How many of those who jump on Trump now for recording were calling for Clinton to resign after Lewinski scandal?

And sure no one here tried answering perfectly appropriate questions from Mr. Smith: Why are Democrats silent about Clinton’s words?

I swear

If it weren't for whataboutism, false equivalencies, and tu quoque, the already-marginal contributions of the Trump camp to our political discourse would be nonexistent.

For my part, I was 11 when the Lewinsky scandal broke. I'm not sure why other people haven't built a time machine to retroactively condemn someone who, as you may have noticed, is a completely different person from Hillary Clinton.

Nobody is answering Mr. Smith because what he's asking is an incoherent jumble of conspiracy theories and non sequiturs.

Epic ethics fails

It's always interesting when republicans, who among other things; claim to be our moral majority put such epic ethical failures on display.

One of the most basic and elementary principles of morality and ethics is the fact that someone else's moral transgressions cannot mitigate another's. Someone else has always done something similar, and many others have done much worse, but that doesn't lesson or excuse anyone's immorality. This basic principle is the foundation of both secular AND religious morality. That principle is also by the way... the foundation of personal responsibility; which another durable "value" that republicans claim to champion.

The problem is that almost without fail anytime one of their own gets caught doing to something disgusting or illegal, they respond by pointing to someone else on the "other" side as if that mitigates their own immorality. It's a classic morality fail.

When some responds to revelations like this with denial (i.e. "It was just talk") and by pointing to someone else (Bill Clinton etc.) what they're basically telling you is that they have no functioning moral compass. The idea that one moral transgression can somehow "balance" another is basically a sociopathic assumption. One could claim it's just debate gaming but the impulse to debate game with morality is a sociopathic trait.

Likewise asking what someone else did when sombody else got caught doing something disgusting or illegal is just an extension of immorality. Nothing anyone may or may not have done is some other situation can relieve one of the responsibility to act in THIS situation. Previous moral failures cannot sanction subsequent moral failures, again basic basic ethics 101.

Such moral failures are so egregious that they tip the scales out the arena of mere hypocrisy into the realm of actual dishonesty. When the republican strategist Steve Schmidt refers to the: "intellectual rot" that has crippled the republican party it's precisely this kind of intellectual dishonesty that he's referring to.

We put people with no moral compass in charge of our governance at our own peril. It's a roll of the dice we can ill afford. The blinding light of Trumps shooting star should not blind us the fact that the republican party is littered with broken compasses and has been so for decades. What this interview is telling us is that the problem isn't actually Trump, Trump will gone after the election. The problem however will obviously remain deep within the republican party.

I was not comparing Trump

I was not comparing Trump with Clinton or trying to excuse Trump’s actions by Clinton’s action. I was comparing actions of Republicans and Democrats and pointing out that while plenty of Republicans are not supporting Trump and admit that he is a bad candidate, there are hardly any Democrats who act similarly towards Clinton. Neither were they were disgusted with Bill Clinton actions at that time… So who is hypocritical?

Which actions are you talking about?

The consensual sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky?

Why are you comparing sexual assault to consensual sex?

More to the point, Bill Clinton isn't running for President and hasn't been President for 16 years. It's simply a morally bankrupt attempt to deflect from Mr. Trump's reprehensible actions.

Again...

Not to belabor the point but since someone else's hypocrisy be it real or imagined cannot sanction your own hypocrisy what's the point? Yes, there's a lot of hypocrisy in the world but that fact is actually irrelevant since no one is claiming that Trump is uniquely immoral, there are millions of people like Trump in the world

It's another interesting phenomena when conservatives, who claim to be the guardians of durable values and absolute truths so frequently and instinctively convert to relativism whenever they back themselves into a moral or intellectual corner. Suddenly it's all relative... sure Trump a moral catastrophe, but compared to...

Please see the logic in comparing

Please try to see the logical point I am making: I am not comparing Trump to anyone or trying to defend him or support him so no hypocrisy or relativism on my side. I am comparing Republicans, who do have moral values and therefore many of them refuse to support Trump, and Democrats who keep supporting Clinton no matter what she does (and don’t even want to hear about that).

Logic?

If we weren't commenting on an article about conservatives and republicans who are supporting keep supporting Trump no matter what he does you might have a point Ilya. As it is the most we can say is that republicans can be just as hypocritical and immoral as any democrat.

Only Words?

The Donald brags on the Howard Stern show about walking into beauty pageant dressing rooms...women come forward and confirm that fact (some of them, at the time, were minors)...they are terrible, terrible liars. He brags to Billy Bush on Access Hollywood about groping women...women come forward to say it's true...they are horrible, horrible liars. Three weeks left of this garbage, then Trump can retreat back to his tower, and the rest of us will have to clean up the mess he leaves in his wake.

And...

Howard Stern jokingly calls Trump a sexual predator to his face and he laughs back. He tells Chris Matthews in 1998 interview that he could never run for President because of his lifestyle choices. He tells Billy Bush the same in more graphic terms.

Next 4 women come out and confirm that he did exactly what he bragged about to Stern, Matthews and Bush.

Of course, the women are all are outrageous liars and how can any of them be believed.

If Trump fails to win election he needs to be sure to sell all his supporters stock in empty Atlantic City casinos. They will get the same return as a Trump Presidency, nothing, and they can continue their no fault love with the Donald.

Agreed

You hit the nail on the head.

If this type of story came out about Mitt Romney, I think many people would be holding off on jumping on judgement because Mitt Romney groping \ assaulting women would be something (I think) most people would view as completely out of character.

Whereas with Trump - given that he literally brags about it - this type of accusation is 100% in line with the view of Trump - including Trump's view of himself...

Family Values

The next time the Republican Party claims "Family Values".
We can just reply.
Trump...

Sure, they're just words...

...amidst a slew of thousands of words that have proven him to be unfit and utterly unprepared to be POTUS. Even if Trump wasn't a racist, mysogynist, habitual liar with a slew of unethical business practices, failures and bankruptcies, he's still not somone who should even be considered for the presidency. Because he's woefully unprepared and simply doesn't have the knowledge of the basics of governing, let alone the temprament to handle the job. Thinking otherwise is willfully ignorant.

That plus a basket full of deplorable, failed, half-baked policies and ideas...