Amid a wave of reports of women alleging Donald Trump kissed or groped them without their consent, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick maintained Thursday that the Republican presidential nominee has effectively pushed the issue behind him.
Patrick, who is Texas Chairman for Trump's presidential campaign, initially addressed the scandal currently dominating the presidential campaign Wednesday to Time Warner Cable News’ Capital Tonight.
“This story is kind of in the rear-view mirror now,” Patrick said, referring to an 11-year-old tape published by the Washington Post that showed Trump bragging about kissing and groping women without their consent.
As Capital Tonight aired the segment Wednesday evening, several news outlets published reports featuring women accusing Trump of activities similar to what he talked about doing in the 2005 video. First, The New York Times published a story in which two women accused Trump of touching them inappropriately.
“He was like an octopus,” Jessica Leeds, one of the women, told the Times. “His hands were everywhere.”
The Palm Beach Post also published a story about a local woman who said she was groped by Trump 13 years ago. People Magazine published a story in which a reporter accused Trump of "forcing his tongue" down her throat.
Trump denied the allegations and is reportedly considering filing a lawsuit. On Twitter, he said: "The phony story in the failing @nytimes is a TOTAL FABRICATION. Written by same people as last discredited story on women. WATCH!"
In a statement to The Texas Tribune, spokesman Allen Blakemore said Patrick continues to believe voters see the Trump tape story "through the rear view mirror."
"As far as new allegations published in the New York Times, the Lieutenant Governor thinks the voters will decide that they are far more concerned about the direction of the Supreme Court, the economy and national security than a decades old tawdry tabloid story published in a newspaper that has already endorsed Mrs. Clinton," Blakemore said.
Patrick was one of many Republican lawmakers who criticized Trump’s comments in the 11-year-old tape but continued to support his presidential campaign. Several Republicans have since called on Trump to step aside and forsake the party's nomination, including U.S. Rep. Will Hurd of San Antonio. Hurd is in Texas' only competitive congressional race this November against Democrat Pete Gallego.
On Capital Tonight, Patrick did not criticize Hurd for calling on Trump to drop out.
“Will Hurd is a terrific congressman,” Patrick said. “If an individual person, we’re talking about one out of our whole delegation, makes a decision that they don’t want to be tied to the top, that’s their decision.”
Patrick also did not walk back his criticisms of Trump.
“No one in the Republican Party or anyone in society accepts what he said,” Patrick said. “He apologized, you move on. The future of the country is at stake.”
When asked if there was a situation that could cause Patrick to rescind his endorsement of Trump, he said: “I can’t answer a hypothetical.”