In Pa., N.J., GOP leaders join firestorm over Trump's remarks about women

File photos (clockwise from top left): Republican Congressman Pat Meehan, U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, Sen. John McCain and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

While Gov. Christie was in New York helping Donald Trump prepare for Sunday's second debate with Hillary Clinton, several prominent Republicans from the Philadelphia region joined a chorus of criticism Saturday over Trump's remarks regarding women.

Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, locked in one of the tightest Senate races in the country, denounced Trump's remarks, contained in a 2005 video that surfaced Friday. As of Saturday night, his campaign wasn't saying whether he would endorse Trump.

Toomey has said he "hopes" to endorse his party's nominee but has criticized Trump's tone and commitment to conservative principles. In a tweet Friday night, he called Trump's comments "outrageous and unacceptable." His campaign did not respond Saturday to several messages asking if he was still considering endorsing Trump.

Toomey's denouncement of Trump's remarks - while not saying whether he would back the GOP candidate - falls in line with national political leaders who on Saturday were careful not to withdraw support.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, a reluctant Trump supporter, responded by uninviting Trump to a Saturday rally in his home state of Wisconsin and said he was "sickened" by the candidate's words. In response to the video, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump's vice presidential running mate, canceled his appearance at Ryan's event, and in a statement said he could not "condone [Trump's] remarks and cannot defend them."

Still, neither leader, nor former Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, formally pulled back their support.

But other national leaders did. Arizona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, said Saturday afternoon that he and his wife would not vote for Trump. Then, Condoleezza Rice, who was secretary of state under President George W. Bush, called for Trump to quit the race.

Meanwhile, Toomey's Democratic opponent, Katie McGinty, lost little time in going after both Trump and Toomey.

"Trump has spent his career demeaning women," McGinty said in a tweet. "What further evidence does [Toomey] need that Trump is completely unfit to be president."

In another tweet, McGinty said: "The only thing worse than Trump's comments are the people who should stand up to him but instead do nothing."

Later Saturday, McGinty said: "Enough is enough. Even after Trump's many offensive comments, Pat Toomey has refused to stand up to Donald Trump. It is too late now for Pat Toomey to back away from Donald Trump, solely in hopes of saving his political career.. . .

"The fact is even after Donald Trump insulted a Gold Star family, said prisoners of war like John McCain were not heroes, and mocked a disabled reporter, Pat Toomey explicitly said that he was 'certainly not in the Never Trump category.' "

Republican Rep. Patrick Meehan called on Trump to get out of the presidential race, CBS Philly reported Saturday night.

"For the good of the country, the Republican Party, and his family, I hope he'll step aside and end his candidacy for president so that we can come together as a party and defeat Hillary Clinton," said Meehan, who represents parts of the Philadelphia suburbs - including most of Delaware County and portions of Chester, Montgomery, Berks, and Lancaster Counties.

"This sort of vile talk is appalling, it's offensive, and there's no place in public or private for it. It's simply wrong."

One Republican congressman, Allentown's Charlie Dent, not only said he wouldn't back Trump, but called for GOP chairman Reince Priebus to remove the New Yorker from the ticket or else lose his job.

"If he can't, then he should step down," Dent told CNN.

In New Jersey, Rep. Frank LoBiondo said he wouldn't vote for Trump.

LoBiondo described the presidential election pitting Trump against Democrat Clinton, the former secretary of state, as a contest between "two horribly flawed" candidates, and said he would write in Pence for president.

"Saying this election has been incredibly disappointing is an understatement," LoBiondo said. "I have repeatedly and strongly spoken out against Mr. Trump when he degrades and insults women, minority groups, and Gold Star military families. I will not vote for a candidate who boasts of sexual assault. It is my conclusion that Trump is unfit to be president.

"Similarly, Secretary Clinton's dishonorable actions - flagrantly ignoring federal laws, repeated failures in judgment on critical foreign policy and national security decisions and intentionally lying to Congress and the American people - have disqualified her," LoBiondo added.

LoBiondo's Democratic opponent, Dave Cole, issued a statement saying that LoBiondo has "collaborated" with Trump for decades.

"For almost 25 years, Frank LoBiondo has represented Donald Trump in Congress. They've had decades of conversations, off camera and off the record. Now that one recording of Trump has surfaced, the public can fully see the man that LoBiondo has stood by 'unconditionally' throughout this campaign."

Republican Rep. Chris Smith, whose district is based in Trenton and includes large portions of central New Jersey, said Trump's words "11 years ago were offensive and demean women and it is important that he has recognized this and has apologized."

The Associated Press reported that Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, in a Twitter message sent in response to a newspaper editor's note seeking her opinion, wrote: "No apology can excuse away Mr. Trump's reprehensible comments degrading women. We're raising my 3 boys to be better than that."

Also on Saturday, Brian Fitzpatrick, the Republican candidate for Congress in the Eighth District serving Bucks County and a portion of Montgomery County, described the video as "offensive" and said he would vote for neither Trump nor Clinton.

"Donald Trump's comments and actions are offensive and disgusting and they cannot be rationalized nor ignored, regardless of context," he said in a statement.

Fitzpatrick's Democratic opponent, State Rep. Steve Santarsiero, issued a statement blasting him.

"Like his entry into this race after moving here from California just nine months ago, Brian Fitzpatrick's belated attempt to distance himself from Donald Trump is blatant political opportunism," Santarsiero said.

"Where was Brian while Donald Trump demeaned women, attacked minorities, mocked the disabled and a decorated war hero, belittled a Gold Star family and praised Vladimir Putin? Despite all of that, Brian was still on board the Trump train. Now, with the election just weeks away and Trump's campaign in free fall, Brian is scrambling to save his own political skin."

cmondics@phillynews.com

215-854-5957@cmondics

This story contains information from The Associated Press.