U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander says he is disgusted by the recently revealed lewd comments on women by Donald Trump, but stopped short of saying he doesn't support the Republican nominee for president.
“I am disgusted by Donald Trump's comments," Alexander said in his first public statement on Trump's decade-old comments on groping women that were reported Friday. "I believe he is driving the presidential campaign to a new low and is running out of time to persuade the American people that he should lead our country and represent American values.”
Through a spokesman, Alexander did not say whether he would still vote for Trump next month. His statement comes one day after fellow East Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Haslam announced he would not vote for Trump, saying he wanted the nominee to step aside in order for vice presidential nominee Mike Pence to take the top spot on the ticket.
Alexander, of Maryville, has never been a big fan of Trump, but has previously committed to vote for his party's nominee. Multiple Senate Republicans, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, have retreated from supporting Trump in light of a 2005 video first released by the Washington Post, where the GOP standard bearer says several vulgar comments about women and appears to condone sexual assault.
Haslam is the only Tennessee Republican to walk away from Trump. Others, like U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and Reps. Marsha Blackburn, Diane Black and Scott DesJarlais, renounced the comments without removing their support.
Nationwide, a slew of prominent Republicans have called on Trump to abandon his campaign. Trump has said he'll never do that, lashing out at any party peers who aren't falling in line.
That includes House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. On Monday, Ryan told GOP caucus members to do what they need to do as it pertains to continuing to support Trump, but he would no longer campaign with the bombastic businessman. Trump tweeted out criticism of Ryan, saying "Paul Ryan should spend more time on balancing the budget, jobs and illegal immigration and not waste his time on fighting Republican nominee."
Locally, House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, criticized Trump's comments but did not pull support.
The General Election is Nov. 8.
Reach Dave Boucher at 615-259-8892 and on Twitter @Dave_Boucher1. Reach Joey Garrison at 615-259-8236 and on Twitter @joeygarrison.