LAS VEGAS — Nevada Reps. Joe Heck and Cresent Hardy announced Saturday they’re rescinding their endorsements of Donald Trump, a day after lewd comments from their party’s presidential nominee came to light and while they both face tough campaigns.
Heck and Hardy are the latest in a string of elected Republicans to abandon Trump in light of vulgar comments that were recorded while Trump spoke to the then-host of “Access Hollywood” in 2005. Trump said he apologized if anyone was offended by the “locker-room banter,” but the revelations were apparently the last straw for the two candidates who had previously held their ground on endorsing him.
“I can no longer look past the pattern of behavior and comments that have been made by Donald Trump,” Heck said at a rally in a Las Vegas strip mall parking lot that also featured former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. “I cannot in good conscience continue to support Donald Trump, nor can I vote for Hillary Clinton.”
Heck had long stood by the nominee, saying recently that he trusted Trump with the nation’s nuclear codes. His reversal was met by cheers from a crowd of largely millennial volunteers who were preparing to knock doors on his behalf, but also howls of disapproval from some attendees who called him a traitor and shouted that they were disappointed with him.
“I believe our only option is to formally ask Mr. Trump to stand down and to allow Republicans the opportunity to elect someone who will provide us with the strong leadership so desperately needed and one that Americans deserve,” said Heck, a doctor and brigadier general in the Army Reserves who has a slim lead in the race in almost all recent polls. “Today I stand here disappointed in our choices for president, but more committed than ever to bringing the same code of honor, decency and respect to the U.S. Senate.”
Hardy, who’s in a tough race for re-election in a Democratic-leaning district, also dumped Trump in a speech on Saturday after expressing support for him for months. He said in August he was “100 percent” behind Trump and would do whatever it takes to get him elected.
“I’ve said all along I would, but I will no longer support him,” Hardy said. “Because I think that when we degrade that mother, wife, housewife, whatever you want to deal with, daughter — that you degrade America.”
But he also reminded attendees of his distrust of Hillary Clinton.
“That lady has no integrity. We must always remember that,” he said.
Heck is in a competitive race for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, and the outcome could decide which party takes the majority in the Senate. His Democratic opponent, former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, signaled that the un-endorsement was not enough.
“For 9 months Joe Heck has been Donald Trump’s strongest supporter in Nevada as Trump has demeaned and disrespected women, made racists comments towards Latinos and showed himself completely unfit to be President,” she said in a statement. “What you’re seeing now is not leadership, it’s Joe Heck trying to save his career, but Joe Heck’s made clear that he’s with Donald Trump.”
Republican Sen. Dean Heller, who’s long expressed doubts about Trump, said he supported Heck and Hardy’s comments and thinks Heck can still win if the un-endorsement angers the base.
“Of course Heck can win this race and he’s going to win this race,” Heller said. “What those videos and tapes had to say was reprehensible and I don’t think Dr. Heck had a choice and I don’t think Cresent Hardy had a choice. I know it makes some people uncomfortable, but it’s the right position to take.”
Other elected Nevada Republicans who said Saturday that they don’t support Trump are Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison and Gov. Brian Sandoval, who said Trump’s behavior pattern was “repulsive and unacceptable.”