Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said in an interview Saturday that he would not drop out of the race under any circumstances, following calls from several prominent members of his party to do so.
“I’d never withdraw. I’ve never withdrawn in my life,” Trump told The Washington Post in a phone call from his home in Trump Tower in New York. “No, I’m not quitting this race. I have tremendous support.”
“People are calling and saying, ‘Don’t even think about doing anything else but running,” Trump said when asked about Republican defections. “You have to see what’s going on. The real story is that people have no idea about the support. I don’t know how that’s going to boil down, but people have no idea about the support.
“Running against her,” Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, makes keeping the party behind him easier, Trump added.
“It’s because she’s so bad. She’s so flawed as a candidate. Running against her, I can’t say it’d be the same if I ran against someone else, but running against her makes it a lot easier, that’s for sure,” he said.
Trump’s comments came less than 24 hours after The Post published a video Friday where Trump bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women during a 2005 conversation caught on a hot microphone.
Trump acknowledged that the video has consumed the presidential race — “it certainly has” — but he said he has endured past controversies, not only during his 2016 bid but during his career.
“I’ve been here before, I’ll tell ya, in life,” Trump said. “I understand life and how you make it through. You go through things. I’ve been through many. It’s called life. And it’s always interesting.”
Trump said “thousands and thousands” of backers have sent him letters and emails since The Post’s story was published. “You have no idea what it’s like,” he said. “So many people.”
Trump pointed to his disparagement of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during the early months of last year’s Republican primary campaign as an example of how he has weathered political storms.
“Everyone said, ‘It’s over, it’s over.’ The people didn’t say that, but the reporters said that,” Trump said. When asked to explain his ability in the past to survive, Trump said it’s because “I’m change.”
Reflecting on his state of mind as he watched news coverage from his apartment, Trump said: “I’m holding up well. I’m holding up well.”
Of Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who retracted his support for Trump on Friday, Trump said that as a Republican, Chaffetz should be going after Clinton rather than criticizing him.
“Chaffetz should spend the same energy going after Hillary Clinton as he does going after the person that won the primary with a record vote,” Trump said. “It’s all talk. All talk and nothing happens when he goes after Clinton.”
Trump said he met with his advisers and family Friday night at Trump Tower and agreed to record a video response. He said there were “many opinions” expressed by those around him, but he declined to share details about those discussions. But he said that his position, throughout the evening, was to stay in the race and remain as upbeat as possible before Sunday’s presidential debate in St. Louis.
“They’re not going to make me quit, and they can’t make me quit,” Trump said of associates and party leaders who have urged him to step aside. “The Republicans, you’ve got to remember, have been running for a long time. The reason they don’t win is because they don’t stick together.”
Trump said he may make a speech or remarks on Saturday evening, perhaps in a suburb of New York City, as a way of encouraging his supporters.
“That’s what I’m thinking about,” he said. “We’ll see.”
Trump insisted, again, that any possible speech would not be a departure from the race.
“Forget that,” Trump said dismissively of the suggestion. “That’s not my deal.”
Asked for a final time, Trump said: “Zero chance. I’ve never quit in my life. . . . I can give you my word that I’m never leaving.”