WASHINGTON — Ever since the release of a 2005 video of Donald Trump boasting about groping women in the most graphic terms, the GOP presidential nominee has put rank-and-file Republicans like U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold on the spot to defend him.
But things did not go well for the three-term Corpus Christi congressman during a Tuesday night appearance on MSNBC.
"Until he does something so bad to make him worse than Hillary [Clinton], I'm still in," Farenthold said after referring to Trump's vulgar comments as "locker room talk."
Anchor Chris Hayes pushed Farenthold further, asking what it would take for him to rescind his endorsement of Trump.
"If a tape came out with Donald Trump saying ... 'I really like to rape women,' you would continue to endorse him?" Hayes asked.
"That would be bad. I would have to consider it," Farenthold said.
Texas Democrats immediately pounced.
"Congressman Farenthold, let me make this easy for you: Rape is rape, and wrong is wrong," Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Crystal Kay Perkins in a statement. "No self-respecting Texan should hesitate to denounce sexual assault or the disgusting Republican nominee."
And after the interview, Farenthold walked his remark back on Twitter.
"I apologize for my failure to immediately condemn anyone who would say something as outrageous as they like raping women," he wrote.
"During an interview on MSNBC with Chris Hayes tonight, I was thrown off by the anchor’s use of a hypothetical question," he added. "I do not, and have not ever condoned, rape or violence against women. That is not the kind of man I believe Donald Trump to be."
Farenthold, like so many other Texas Republicans, is under political pressure to defend Trump; many of them worry the nominee's grassroots base could take revenge for disloyalty in the 2018 primaries. Farenthold echoed many of his colleagues in the delegation in the MSNBC interview, arguing that whatever Trump might say pales in comparison to the actions of Clinton.
Read more of our related coverage:
- Where Texas Republicans stand on Donald Trump.
- Touring Muleshoe, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz reiterated his support for Donald Trump, saying Hillary Clinton is "manifestly unfit" to be president.
- U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan is coming to Texas to raise money as concentrates his attention on protecting the House Republican majority with Donald Trump at the top of the ticket.