Many Republicans are backing away from Donald Trump in the wake of video showing the GOP presidential candidate making lewd comments about women, but Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar isn’t one of them.
A little more than a week after hosting a fundraiser that netted Trump $1.5 million — and hours after Trump’s 2005 comments about his pursuit of a married woman and groping women — Claar said he’s still backing Trump over Hillary Clinton.
“I can’t say (what Trump said) doesn’t bother me,” Claar said Saturday in a phone interview while he waited for a flight in Florida. “But I also read excerpts from Hillary’s email that (are) also somewhat unfortunate.”
Other Illinois politicians — apparently concerned that Trump’s comments could play a deciding role in key congressional races nationwide — weren’t so forgiving.
Rep. Rodney Davis, a Republican representing central and southwest Illinois, called for Trump to drop out of the presidential race.“The abhorrent comments made by Donald Trump are inexcusable and go directly against what I’ve been doing in Washington to combat assaults on college campuses,” Davis said in a statement. “I hope Donald Trump withdraws from the race so the American people can elect Mike Pence as our next president.”
Sen. Mark Kirk, locked in a close race for reelection against Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth, has called for his party to drop Trump as a candidate.
Rep. John Shimkus, a Republican from southern Illinois, issued a statement saying he was “profoundly disappointed and disgusted by Donald Trump’s comments.”
Claar on Saturday admitted that the Friday release of the video of Trump’s lewd comments has shaken some of those who paid to be in the crowd of 350 when Trump visited the Bolingbrook Golf Club.
Among those in attendance at that fundraiser: Todd Ricketts, head of a conservative super PAC and a co-owner of the Chicago Cubs; Weather Tech CEO Dave McNeil, and Bears Hall of Famer Dan Hampton.
Claar — who missed the early coverage of Trump’s remarks — said he got a text from one of the donors who attended the Bolingbrook Trump fundraiser.
“He said ‘Well, it’s over,'” Claar said Saturday. “I texted him ‘Why? What happened?’ and he said ‘Google Trump and comments and video.'”
“It’s unfortunate,” Claar said. “But it’s not like he’s the first person in the world that’s ever said that stuff.”
Claar said that the discouraged Trump donor texted him again Saturday after reading about Hillary Clinton campaign emails released by WikiLeaks that are raising new questions about whether her relationship with the finance industry is too cozy.
“He said ‘He’s back in it,'” Claar said. “That’s how fast this thing is moving.”
“(Trump’s) language is unfortunate, but (Hillary Clinton’s) actions are questionable ethically,” Claar said. “They’re both challenged candidates.
In the 2005 video, Trump is apparently unaware that his conversation with former “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush is being recorded, as Trump confides that he did “try and f–k” a married woman, and that his fame allowed him to grope women.
Illinois Republicans have generally been lukewarm in their support for Trump, even as the billionaire steadily dispatched his challengers during the primaries — including an 8-point win in the Illinois primary in March.
Gov. Bruce Rauner did not attend this year’s GOP convention and has not endorsed Trump, but he has said he would vote for the Republican nominee.
At an event downstate Saturday, Rauner said, “I’ll say this. The rhetoric in this presidential campaign (is) appalling, disgusting. As a father (and) as a husband, the language is vile and repulsive and I condemn it in the strongest possible way.”
Asked if he’ll still support Trump, Rauner replied, “I’ve made my comments.”
Contributing: Lynn Sweet, Jacob Wittich