Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Donald Trump would have to answer for allegations about repeatedly disrespecting women but deflected concerns that it posed a major challenge for his presidential candidacy.
The GOP chairman appeared on Sunday television talk shows and was asked to respond to a New York Times report that documented Trump’s checkered history of disparaging women and making unwelcome advances toward them.
“These are things that he is going to have to answer for," Priebus said on ABC's "This Week." "But I also think there are things from many years ago and I think that, you know, as Christians, judging each other I think is problematic.”
The New York Times story was based on interviews with women and men who have known Trump since the days when he was known as a “ladies' man” at the New York Military Academy in the 1960s. The report said the GOP presumptive 2016 presidential nominee made offensive comments about female co-workers, humiliated other women and used his purchase of the Miss Universe Organization to cozy up to unsuspecting contestants.
When asked about the allegations on “Fox News Sunday,” Priebus said it wasn’t likely to affect Trump’s campaign because the American people want change to come to Washington.
“All these stories that come out, and they come out every couple of weeks, people just don’t care,” Priebus said. “I think people look at Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and say, ‘Who’s going to bring an earthquake to D.C.?’”
A Gallup poll published April 1 found that 70 percent of women had an unfavorable opinion of the billionaire businessman, who has been married three times.
Trump managed to catapult to the top of a crowded Republican presidential field and garner widespread support from voters despite a controversial style and personal politics that are often at odds with traditional conservatives. His positions on taxes, trade deals and military intervention, even as they have shifted, have not won fans among GOP leadership.
But that trend is beginning to shift.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin moved toward accepting Trump as the Republican presidential nominee Thursday after a closed-door meeting intended to show a gradual unifying of the party.
When asked about the encounter between the two GOP leaders on “This Week,” Priebus said he expects Ryan to endorse Trump.
"I get the sense that it was a great meeting,” he said. “I get the sense that it was everything both parties wanted it to be."
Other Republican leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, have already moved toward Trump.
Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, a Trump supporter, said on “This Week” that Trump, as a nontraditional politician from outside Washington, isn’t a typical candidate and therefore isn’t judged in the same way. He doesn’t expect the allegations of misogyny to stick to Trump even as he is seemingly headed toward to a general election against the first female presidential candidate in U.S. history.
"People have not expected purity on his part,” Sessions said. “What they're concerned about, they're deeply concerned about, is this: somebody strong enough to take on Washington."
Follow me on Twitter @wjhenn