Nevada Republican Senate candidate Joe Heck said Saturday that Donald Trump should step down as the GOP nominee for president, saying the “American people deserve better.”
“I can no longer look past the pattern of behavior and comments that have been made by Donald Trump,” the three-term congressman said at a rally in Las Vegas. “Therefore, I cannot in good conscience continue to support Donald Trump.”
He added: “My wife, my daughters, my mother, my sister and all women deserve better.”
Heck said he would not vote for Hillary Clinton, either.
Heck joins New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte as the second GOP Senate candidate to renounce their support of Trump on Saturday, following the revelation of a video Friday that recorded the real estate mogul making sexually inappropriate comments about women in 2005.
The news was not well-received by all of those attending Saturday’s rally. One woman booed loudly while Heck read his speech, yelling that she was “so disappointed” at the congressman.
Republicans have hesitated to withdraw support from Trump in part because they worry about alienating his core supporters. But candidates like Heck, who is running in a Latino-heavy swing state, must also worry about appealing to moderate voters, too, who after Friday’s video, might be abandoning the GOP presidential nominee en masse.
“My hope is that this will not divide us and that we can unite behind Republican principles,” Heck said. “We deserve a candidate who can ask him or herself at the end of the day, “Did I live my life with honor and do I deserve to be elected president of the United States.”
The congressman, considered the GOP’s best Senate recruit this year, is locked in a tight race against Democratic Senate nominee Catherine Cortez Masto. Republicans have been bullish on his chances in what is the party’s lone opportunity to pick up a Democratic-held seat in 2016. (The seat is held by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.)
In a statement, Cortez Masto criticized Heck for having continued to support Trump despite the litany of offensive comments the GOP standard-bearer has made before the video footage was revealed on Friday.
“For nine months, Joe Heck has been Donald Trump’s strongest supporter in Nevada as Trump has demeaned and disrespected women, made racist comments toward Latinos and showed himself completely unfit to be president,” the former Nevada attorney general said. “Heck said he had ‘high hopes’ about Trump becoming president, that he completely supported him, and that he had no doubts about Trump having his finger on the nuclear button.