International desk – The most senior elected US Republican official has said he will not defend Donald Trump, after remarks he made about groping women led to outrage.
According to a BBC report House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan vowed to focus on defending seats in Congress, but did not end his endorsement of the party’s nominee.
Trump tweeted that Ryan should not waste his time fighting him.
Earlier Democratic rival Hillary Clinton cast doubt on Trump’s apology for the 11-year-old remarks.
On Sunday, Trump described his words as “locker-room talk”.
In a bitter televised debate, a month before the US presidential election, Trump denied he had groped anyone.
Clinton tweeted on Monday that, if he stood by this assertion, he was “clearly not sorry”.
A 2005 video released on Friday revealed Trump describing how he had sought to have sex with a married woman and making obscene comments about women.
Asked about the video in the debate, Trump turned his fire on Clinton’s husband, ex-President Bill Clinton, whom he described as “abusive to women”. She refused to address the comments.
At least 38 senior Republicans – including senators, members of Congress, and state governors – have withdrawn their support since the video surfaced on Friday.
But late on Monday Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said “nothing has changed” in relation to the campaign.
“I think the issue [of the remarks about groping] was taken care of at the debate,” he said, quoted by the Politico website, after a conference call with committee members.
BBC reported quoting sources familiar with a conference call he held with congress members on Monday, Ryan appeared to have accepted that Clinton would win the White House and wanted to make sure Republicans in Congress were strong enough to challenge her.
Ryan said he would spend “his entire energy making sure that Hillary Clinton does not get a blank cheque with a Democrat-controlled Congress”, the source said.
“You all need to do what’s best for you in your district,” he was quoted as telling colleagues.
He, however, faced some resistance from colleagues for his approach.
California Representative Dana Rohrabacher, called party leaders “cowards” during the call for distancing themselves from the Republican’s official nominee, reports say.