Donald Trump considered dropping out of the 2016 presidential race amid fallout from the infamous Access Hollywood tape where he can be heard boasting about getting to ‘grab [women] by the p***y,’ a new book excerpt from Kellyanne Conway revealed on Sunday.
Then-candidate Trump was apparently worried the Republican Party ‘could force him off the ticket or hold a vote to expel him’ over the embarrassing tape, leaked roughly a month before Election Day.
Conway, a former top White House adviser and Trump campaign manager, recounted a crisis meeting with her then-boss over the audio in her forthcoming memoir ‘Here’s The Deal.’ A copy was obtained by the Daily Beast.
‘Should I get out [of the race]?’ Conway recalled Trump asking her on October 8, 2016, a day after the decade-old tape was released.
The ex-adviser told him that he ‘actually can’t’ drop out ‘unless you want to forfeit and throw the whole damn thing to Hillary.’
Trump wound up losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton but swept the race with an Electoral College victory.
‘What do you mean, I can’t?’ Trump is described as ‘firing back’ at Conway.
She reportedly reasoned that it was too late to quit because early voting had already begun.
‘I know you don’t like to lose…but I also know you don’t like to quit,’ Conway recalled telling Trump in the Sunday excerpt.
She said he asked: ‘Will I lose? Will we lose? Can we still win?’
Kellyanne Conway is releasing a new memoir about her time as Donald Trump’s campaign manager and later White House conselor, titled ‘Here’s The Deal’
Conway’s account claimed she tore into Trump himself over the October 2016 Access Hollywood tape, calling his comments ‘disgusting’ and ‘reprehensible’ despite defending them on television at the time.
The meeting reportedly took place in Trump Tower – not in the former real estate executive’s office, but rather ‘around the corner from the elevator landing on the 24th floor,’ according to the Beast.
And Trump’s reported uncertainty about his ultimately successful presidential bid is a stark contrast to his public comments that same day.
The Republican told the Wall Street Journal that there is ‘zero chance I’ll quit’ and ‘I never, ever give up’ on October 8 even as he privately asked Conway if he should do so.
He also posted to his now-suspended Twitter account at the time: ‘The media and establishment want me out of the race so badly – I WILL NEVER DROP OUT OF THE RACE, WILL NEVER LET MY SUPPORTERS DOWN!’
On October 7, 2016, bombshell hot mic audio from a conversation with host Billy Bush features Trump boasting: ‘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. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the p***y. You can do anything.’
It was first reported by the Washington Post.
The Washington Post leaked audio in October 2016 caught on a hot mic between Trump and Billy Bush while waiting for actress Ariana Zucker (pictured with Trump in 2005). Trump had said of Zucker: ‘I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. 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. And when you’re a star, they let you do it’
The then-candidate suffered backlash on all sides, including Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell withdrawing his endorsement and even his running mate Mike Pence publicly condemning the comments.
Then-Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, who later became Trump’s White House chief of staff, revealed later that he privately asked Trump to step out of the race in the wake of those remarks.
And it spurred other accusers to come forward with their own accounts of sexual assault against Trump – though all of the fallout ultimately did not derail his campaign.
Bush, however, ultimately resigned from his former job as co-host on NBC’s ‘Today Show.’
Another recent excerpt from Conway’s book, which will go on sale Tuesday, dives into how the bombastic Trump presidency impacted her marriage with husband George Conway.
Both are public GOP operatives, but the attorney formerly known mostly for representing Paula Jones against Bill Clinton carved out a new name for himself on the internet as one of Trump’s top Republican critics.
Conway’s memoir accused her husband of ‘cheating by tweeting’ according to an excerpt obtained by People.
‘I was having a hard time competing with his new fling,’ she wrote.
She also recalled telling him: ‘You shouldn’t criticize me publicly. And when did you become so mean? That is so not you.’