On Friday, The Washington Post unearthed a decade-old hot-mic recording of Donald Trump boasting of his sexual prowess to television personality Billy Bush. In it, Trump, then a fifty-nine-year-old newlywed, admitted that he "did try and fuck" a married woman ("I moved on her like a bitch") and that he popped Tic Tacs because, when he sees a beautiful woman, "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."
And then, the coup d' grace: "Grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything."
The denunciations came fast and furious (including from the maker of Tic Tacs). By Saturday evening, three-dozen elected Republican officials had said they wouldn't vote for Trump. House Speaker Paul Ryan disinvited Trump from a campaign event on Saturday, then told colleagues that he would no longer campaign for his party's nominee.
Trump, meanwhile, offered a half-assed apology early Saturday morning and then another at Sunday's debate, but tried to shift the focus to Bill Clinton's long-ago infidelities and unproven accusations of sexual assault, which riled up his Breitbart base while infuriating Republican elites.
The erstwhile Party of Lincoln was cracking up before our eyes.
Which got us wondering: How are North Carolina's top Republicans, many of whom are locked in pitched reelection battles, responding? Below, we've assembled as many statements as we could find—from Twitter and Facebook, from official statements and news reports. You'll find condemnations aplenty—"Disgusting!" "Indefensible!"—though several self-annointed defenders of virtue have remained noticeably silent (looking at you, Dan Forest).
But what you won't find is any Tar Heel Republicans saying that they won't for him.
In so many words, they're saying that, on one hand, Trump is a vile cretin whom they wouldn't want in the same room as their daughters, but on the other, what the hell, give him the keys to the Oval Office. Because to say otherwise would risk offending Trump's rabid fans, and their convictions don't have that much courage. That is the very definition of political cowardice.
Governor McCrory: "I condemn in the strongest possible terms the comments made by Donald Trump regarding women. I find them disgusting." (Presumably, he finds Trump's comments—and not women—disgusting, although, who's to say for sure?)
Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest: Nothing.
House Speaker Tim Moore: "I strongly condemn Donald Trump's comments. This is completely unacceptable."
U.S. Senator Richard Burr, on Friday: "The comments are inappropriate and completely unacceptable."
U.S. Senator Richard Burr, on Saturday: "I am going to watch his level of contrition over the next few days to determine my level of support."
U.S. Senator Richard Burr, on Monday: "He's apologized multiple times since that tape came out, and when I look at what the country needs—and that's an economy that grows, jobs that are created, and a strong national defense—I'm convinced that I can't get there with Hillary Clinton. So yeah, I'm supporting Donald Trump."
U.S. Senator Thom Tillis: "As a proud husband and father of a daughter, I find Donald Trump's comments indefensible."
State Representative Nelson Dollar: "Donald Trump's behavior is totally unacceptable. Women should never be exposed to this type of treatment, whether eleven years ago or today."
Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the N.C. Republican Party: "North Carolina Republicans agree that these comments are wrong, hurtful and do not represent the highest ideals of our party."
Dallas Woodhouse, after Sunday's debate: "Donald Trump rejected the politics of cronyism and made it clear he will bring strong leadership, prosperity and security to our country."
Michelle Nix, vice chair of the NCGOP, on Twitter: "HypocrisyAlert #Libs want men, women, & girls to share LOCKER ROOMS & showers, but now need a 'Safe Space' to hear lockerroom talk?!"
N.C. Values Coalition: Silent on Trump's remarks. Resumed "Hillary's emails" posts following the debate on Sunday.
State Senator Buck Newton: Silence.
Senate leader Phil Berger: Nope.
U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx: Zilch.
U.S. Representative Renee Ellmers: Nada.
NC for Trump's first tweet after the video surfaced:"##l@lof lolll#l@m."