Snyder: Trump comments ‘revolting,’ race a ‘huge mess’

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder gave a harsh assessment Thursday about the presidential race in which he has refused to endorse, calling it a “huge mess” and criticizing recently surfaced comments by GOP nominee Donald Trump.

Trump’s comments in a 2005 recording published Friday by The Washington Post “were both revolting and disgusting with respect to women,” Snyder told reporters in Grand Rapids, according to audio published by WJRW-AM.

“So I’m going to stay focused in on the House races and working hard for candidates across the state.”

Snyder, who briefly flirted with his own presidential run in early 2015, did not endorse in the Republican primaries while he focused on the state’s response to the Flint water contamination crisis. He has declined to back Trump since the New York businessman won the party’s nomination.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley this weekend revoked his endorsement of Trump over the decade-old video and audio featuring the former reality television star bragging about being able to get away with kissing and fondling women because of his celebrity status.

Many other top Michigan Republicans have stuck by Trump, whose campaign on Wednesday announced a new “Women for Trump” leadership team.

The New York Times reported Wednesday on two women who say Trump inappropriately touched them 11 years ago and more than 30 years ago, respectively, and decided to share their stories after Trump denied any such actions in Sunday night’s presidential debate.

Trump, on Twitter, called the story “TOTAL FABRICATION.” His attorney has demanded a retraction and threatened to sue the newspaper over the story.

The video of Trump’s 2005 comments was published the same day WikiLeaks began releasing a trove of internal emails sent or received by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podestra.

The email dump included excerpts from never-released paid speeches Clinton made to Wall Street and banking interests, including controversial comments about trade and the need to have “both a public and a private position” as a politician.

“It’s just a huge mess,” Snyder said of the presidential race, “and so what I would say is my focus has been on the state House races.”

“We’ve done so many great things in Michigan, and I want to work hard to maintain a Republican majority in the House,” he continued. “Because look at the progress, the comeback of Michigan. Let’s keep it going.”

Snyder has publicly backed more than 30 Republican candidates this cycle, including state and U.S. House hopefuls. He’s also helped fund TV ads and other outreach campaigns for a handful of state House candidates through his Relentless Positive Action committee and Making Government Accountable nonprofit fund.

Democrats are hoping to regain control of the Michigan House for the first time since the GOP wave election of 2010. They would need to pick up nine seats now held by Republicans for a majority or eight seats to share power.

A recent poll released to Detroit News-WDIV showed Clinton with a 42.2 percent to 30.6 percent lead over Trump with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

While Trump has almost a month to gain ground, his nearly 12-point deficit may not bode well for down-ticket Republicans, as presidential elections often drive voter enthusiasm and participation.

“It could make it a more challenging environment,” Snyder acknowledged, “but I’ve stayed out of the whole presidential election.”

joosting@detroitnews.com