Several Republican lawmakers have withdrawn their support for Donald Trump. But the American billionaire has threatened to target the sexual wrongdoings of Hillary Clinton's husband during the debate.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Sunday remained defiant amid calls within his party to abandon the race for the country's top elected office after a controversial 2005 video surfaced over the weekend.
"Tremendous support (except for some Republican leadership). Thank you," Trump wrote on the social media platform Twitter.
"So many self-righteous hypocrites. Watch their poll numbers - and elections - go down," he added, apparently referring to the growing number of Republican lawmakers renouncing support for the American billionaire.
In a video obtained by "The Washington Post" on Friday, Trump boasts about his attempts to have sex with a married woman, while he was married to his current wife, Slovenia-born model Melania Trump.
"I moved on her and I failed, I'll admit it. I did try and f--- her, she was married. I moved on her like a b--ch," he said in the video filmed in 2005.
The presidential candidate goes on to say that due to his celebrity status, he can sexually assault women. "When you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p----. You can do anything," he said.
Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, on Sunday sought to shift blame onto Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Giuliani told American broadcaster CNN that she "was the leader of the attack" against "the women who Bill Clinton sexually assault, sexually abused."
The Republican presidential candidate has warned that he will target Clinton over her husband's sexual wrongdoings during the debate, disavowing a previous pledge not to do so during the campaign.
Republican officials and lawmakers have distanced themselves from Trump since the video was released.
Trump's vice presidential pick Mike Pence on Saturday said he could not defend the billionaire's comment on women, adding that he needed to show contrition in his remarks during the debate.
"We pray for his family and look forward to the opportunity to show what is in his heart when he goes before the nation," Pence said.
Former State Secretary Condoleeza Rice went further, calling on Trump to resign.
"Donald Trump should not be president. He should withdraw. As a Republican, I hope to support someone who has the dignity and stature to run for the highest office in the greatest democracy on earth," she said in a statement published on Facebook.
Several Republican senators have also withdrawn their support, including Arizona's John McCain, New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte and Utah's Mike Lee.
ls/rc (AP, dpa, Reuters, AFP)