U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce broke his silence on Donald Trump at a debate against his congressional opponent Tuesday night.
Pearce hadn’t addressed the controversial 2005 video, released last week, in which Trump bragged to then-Access Hollywood host Billy Bush about kissing women without permission and grabbing them by their genitalia.
Pearce called the Trump comments “horrid” and “indefensible,” per the Albuquerque Journal, but still said he would support the Republican nominee over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
NMPolitics.net reported Pearce said he couldn’t support Clinton becuase of the attacks on U.S. govenrment facilities in Benghazi, Lybia.
“I think that the comments were horrid. They are indefensible, and I don’t defend them,” Pearce said in an interview with journalists following a Tuesday night debate with his opponent in the Nov. 8 election, Democrat Merrie Lee Soules.
“But I expressed my deep-rooted feelings here tonight that I have about Benghazi and how we left people hanging,” Pearce said. “I think that was very clear in my discussion tonight — why I could never support Mrs. Clinton.”
“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump said in the video from the Access Hollywood archives, released by the Washington Post last Friday. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”
“Grab them by the pussy,” Trump says later. “You can do anything.”
Pearce’s stance is similar to that of Republican Party of New Mexico chairwoman Debbie Maestas, who denounced Trump’s remarks but said she would be supporting him this November anyway. The state party will also still be supporting Trump.
He breaks from the state’s top Republican elected official, Gov. Susana Martinez. Martinez said she would not support Trump this fall. She has also said she would not vote for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton or Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson.
Unlike many Republican officials, Martinez never endorsed Trump. Before the release of the 2005 video, Martinez said she was withholding support unless Trump could pledge to protect the state’s military bases and national labs. She also criticized Trump for his statements on Mexicans from when he launched his campaign.
Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, meanwhile, criticized Trump over the video but did not say whether or not he would be voting for the nominee.
Pearce faces Democrat Merrie Lee Soules in the general election.