For the good of the country, Gov. Bill Haslam believes Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump should withdraw his candidacy and give way to vice presidential nominee Mike Pence.
Haslam, R-Knoxville, became the first prominent Tennessee Republican to make such a statement when he issued his comments Sunday afternoon. He joins a growing chorus of national Republicans to repudiate their party's standard bearer in light of a 2005 video where Trump made vulgar comments that appear to condone the sexual assault of women.
“I want to emphasize that character in our leaders does matter. None of us in elected office are perfect, but the decisions that are made in the Oval Office have too many consequences to ignore the behavior we have seen," Haslam said.
“It is time for the good of the nation and the Republican Party for Donald Trump to step aside and let Gov. Mike Pence assume the role as the party’s nominee. If he does not step aside, I will write in a Republican for the office of President."
Haslam had never endorsed Trump, one of the only prominent Tennessee Republicans not to do so. When asked recently about Trump, Haslam said he just wanted the election season to be over.
“Finally, I want to urge Republicans to vote. Now more than ever, who we elect to Congress and our state and local offices is critical to the future of this country and state that we love," Haslam said in the statement.
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., repudiated Trump's comments but has not withdrawn his support, as did U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and House Speaker Beth Harwell. No other prominent Tennessee Republicans have said anything about Trump's statements.