Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has rejected calls from leading Republicans for him to quit the election race after a decade-old recording emerged with him speaking in vulgar terms about women and boasting that he could "grab them" and "do anything" because he was "a star."
Republicans from Utah to Alabama and New Hampshire were dropping their support for Trump on October 8, a day after The Washington Post newspaper released the controversial recording of his sexually charged comments.
Even the Republican vice presidential running mate, Mike Pence, sought to distance himself from Trump's lewd remarks, saying on October 8 that he was "offended."
But a defiant Trump insisted on October 8 that he would "never quit" his attempt to win the presidency.
Just after midnight, Trump issued a rare videotaped apology about the remarks in the three-minute video recording.
But he also downplayed the significance of his comments, calling them a "distraction" and saying they "don't reflect who I am."
The speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan (Republican, Wisconsin), withdrew an invitation for a joint appearance during weekend with Trump.
The Republican's majority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, called Trump's remarks "repugnant" and "unacceptable in any circumstance."
The campaign of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, who is hoping to become the first female president in U.S. history, quickly condemned Trump's remarks.
Clinton and Trump are scheduled to conduct their second presidential debate in St. Louis on October 9.
Opinion polls had shown a tight race ahead of the November 8 vote, but Clinton has opened up a wider lead since their first televised debate on September 26.
In his midnight apology on October 8, the businessman and former reality-TV star said "I was wrong, and I apologize if people were offended."
Trump said he never claimed to be "a perfect person nor pretended to be someone that I'm not."
"I've said and done things I regret," he said. "And the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them."
It is unclear who provided journalists with the previously unaired 2005 clip, in which Trump is speaking in particularly lewd terms to Billy Bush of the entertainment-themed show Access Hollywood.
In the video, Trump talked about his attempts to seduce and have sex with women -- including a married woman.
He said: "When you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything." He then added, "Grab them by the [expletive]. You can do anything."
Clinton called Trumps remarks "horrific."
"We cannot allow this man to become president," she said.
Her campaign highlighted its own video arguing that "our daughters deserve better" than Trump in the White House.
But perhaps even more damaging for Trump, the 2005 video also elicited sharp criticism from leaders in the Republican Party, which is already facing strains over the billionaire businessman's challenge to the Republican establishment and his presidential bid as a Washington outsider.
Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus, who has appeared to stand by Trump amid furors over previous controversial remarks, said, "No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever."
Representative Jason Chaffetz announced he was withdrawing his endorsement of Trump, saying simply, "I'm out. I can no longer in good conscience endorse this person for president. It is some of the most abhorrent and offensive comments that you can possibly imagine."
Republicans are also concerned about the effect of Trump's nomination on candidates farther down the ballot, in Senate and House races as well as local contests, in the November 8 elections.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, The New York Times, and Politico