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Some stick to party, some Republicans drop support as Trump calls accusers liars

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After Donald Trump’s controversies regarding allegations of his behavior with women, many in the Republican Party are questioning whether they can support his campaign for the U.S. presidency.

That includes state Rep. Steve Hambley, R-Brunswick, who was asked about the topic after a candidates forum Thursday morning at a Medina Breakfast Kiwanis Club meeting at Medina Hospital.

Hambley said he has a strong allegiance to the Republican Party and will do everything he can to get many of its candidates elected or re-elected. Hambley, a former Medina County commissioner, is being challenged by Democrat Frank A. Zona of Hinckley Township for the 69th District seat.

But when it comes to president, Hambley said he has concerns.

“I’m working for the Republican ticket,” Hambley said. “Every day I struggle to have a good reason to vote for Trump. To be honest with you, I’m still struggling.”

Reaffirming support

Nationally, some key Republican officeholders and candidates reaffirmed their support for Trump on Thursday despite new allegations from women that he groped and assaulted them. Republicans interviewed argued that Trump would still be better on key issues like energy and the Supreme Court than Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Hambley said even though he’s not in Trump’s corner, he can’t support Clinton, either.

“No matter who wins, we have a very flawed president,” he said. “I’m struggling. I’m not going to vote for Hillary. To vote for Trump, I’m struggling.”

He noted that Trump’s comments from a video tape that many viewed as offensive toward women were made 11 years ago.

“The timing is always suspect because it’s an election,” Hambley said. “Why didn’t they (report) that when he was running in the Republican primaries?

“I wasn’t a supporter of Trump. I struggle with the idea that I’m going to have to vote for him. I’m working for the ticket. I’m working to get the Republican vote out, from (U.S. Sen. Rob) Portman and everybody else. We need to make sure we keep that control in the (U.S.) House and Senate.”

Hambley said he will vote for Republicans who support Republican principals.

He’s a historian and a former college professor.

“We’ve had bad presidents before, but never with so much concentrated power,” he said.

He said Congress has lost much of its authority to the federal government’s executive branch over the last century.

“Congress needs to take that authority back and the states need to get their authority back, as well,” Hambley said. “We’ve had an erosion of state rights. I’m a firm believer that we need to systematically, over the long term, return the balance of power back to the states and to Congress.”

State Sen. Larry Obhof, R-Montville Township, and Medina County Treasurer John Burke declined comment when asked whether they support Trump.

Obhof is being challenged for the 22nd District Senate seat by Democrat Christopher King, of Sullivan, and a write-in candidate, Ashley Kemp, of Medina.

Not wavering

Medina County Clerk of Courts Dave Wadsworth, said he remains a Trump supporter.

“I’m not wavering on Trump,” he said. “Trump is who he is. He is his own man. I think, quite frankly, he’ll be a great business leader as president, and that’s what we need right now. He knows how to hire the right people for the job, and in many cases it’s females.”

Trump on Thursday denied all charges made against him about his behavior with multiple women. Newspaper reports appeared in the New York Times and the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post and other stories appeared on the website BuzzFeed and People magazine. He heatedly rejected new allegations of sexual assault as “pure fiction,” hammering his female accusers as “horrible, horrible liars”

Trump said, “These vicious claims about me, of inappropriate conduct with women, are totally and absolutely false. And the Clintons know it,” he charged. He offered no evidence discrediting the new reports except to ask why his accusers had waited years and then made their allegations less than a month before the election.

Wadsworth said, “I’ve been in locker rooms before and I know how guys try to one up each other.”

After the video tape was revealed last Friday, Trump said his comments were “locker room” talk.

Wadsworth said, “I’m not surprised at that level. (The locker room comments are) repugnant. It is what it is.”

Same question

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., noted he keeps getting asked the same question.

“Asked and answered like 10 times in the last week and the answer’s still the same,” said Blunt, who is running for re-election. “As long as the choice is Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton ... Hillary Clinton will not change the Obamacare disaster, the out of control regulators or our terrible foreign policy. I think with a Republican Congress, that he may be able to do that.”

Said West Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Cole, president of the state Senate: “You have one candidate who wants to be there for our coal and our natural gas industry, and another one that wants to destroy them.”

“I was offended by what he said. But the choice is so clear: If we’re going to move West Virginia forward, we have to have Donald Trump in the White House,” Cole said. “We have to, to open our opportunities with coal and natural gas in the state.”

There appeared to be scant evidence Thursday of any additional GOP defections from Trump’s campaign.

In the wake of last Friday’s disclosure of the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape of Trump talking about kissing and grabbing women, some Republicans withdrew their support, including Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Rob Portman of Ohio, all of whom are up for re-election. But at least publicly, no one else appeared to be jumping ship Thursday, perhaps because of the fury of GOP base voters, goaded by Trump himself, over the original defectors. A few of the original defectors subsequently got back on board, including U.S. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, a member of the Senate’s GOP leadership.

Despite the new level of controversy, Republican consultants generally believe that Trump has a core of supporters who will not abandon him. So for elected officials in traditionally Republican states like Missouri, West Virginia or Arkansas, especially anyone running for office, denouncing Trump may not be a smart move.

And those GOP officials who already had distanced themselves from Trump were largely silent on the new allegations Thursday. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who on Monday announced he would not defend Trump or campaign for him, appeared before the Waukesha County Business Alliance but refused to take questions from reporters. He told the group he wanted to have a discussion on ideas and not “all the mudslinging and the mess that’s out there on TV.” He did not mention Trump.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721- 4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.



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