Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick attends a Donald Trump rally on Aug. 23, 2016, in Austin. Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera for the Texas Tribune.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick attends a Donald Trump rally on Aug. 23, 2016, in Austin. Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera for the Texas Tribune.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional comments.

Two top Texas Republicans on Friday condemned lewd comments Donald Trump made about women, but did not back off their support for their party’s presidential nominee.

“These comments are disturbing and inappropriate, there is simply no excuse for them,” tweeted U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who recently endorsed Trump after a months-long holdout. “Every wife, mother, daughter — every person — deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”

“There is absolutely no excuse to ever talk about women in such a crude and demeaning way,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Trump’s Texas chairman, said in a statement Friday that was critical of the comments, but also sought to scrutinize Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

Hours earlier, a clip from 2005 surfaced that showed Trump boasting about touching, kissing and trying to have sex with women, including married women. In a statement, Trump called the comments “locker room banter” and said he was sorry “if anyone was offended.”

Trump’s remarks even drew a rebuke from U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, who is fighting for re-election in the only competitive congressional race this November in Texas. Hurd, a San Antonio Republican, had previously not volunteered any comments on Trump throughout the race, other than to say from the outset he could not support the nominee.

“I find Donald Trump’s comments that were released today to be utterly sickening and repulsive for all women and Americans,” Hurd said in a statement. “As a proud son of a wonderful mother, the brother of a strong and successful sister, the uncle to four beautiful nieces, I am ashamed that any person much less a nominee for President of the United States would speak that way of women. We deserve better.”

Yet not every Texas Republican offered unqualified criticism of Trump’s comments.

Trump, Patrick said in his statement, “was certainly right to apologize.” But he said Trump’s unearthed remarks should not “distract voters from the frightening policies” pushed by Clinton, whose campaign was the subject of an email leak at about the same time Friday.

Published by the website WikiLeaks, the emails appear to show excerpts from paid speeches Clinton gave before running for president, including one in which she expresses support for “open trade” and “open borders.” Such policies, Patrick said, “would spell ruin for the future of our country.”

Among Republican elected officials in Texas, Patrick has been Trump’s most vocal backer. In the primaries, Patrick supported Cruz, who last month finally endorsed Trump, his former bitter rival.

Other Texas Republicans did not have immediate reactions Friday on Trump’s lewd comments, but Texas Democrats pounced on the controversy.

“Donald Trump’s exploitation of women knows no bounds,” former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis said in a statement to The Texas Tribune. “Just when you think he has reached the ultimate low, he finds a new basement. I wouldn’t want Donald Trump in the same room with my daughters and granddaughter, much less be their President of the United States.”

Congressional candidate Pete Gallego also weighed in, using Trump’s remarks to remind voters of Hurd’s relative silence on Trump. “Even now [Hurd] still can’t be bothered to speak out to defend half of his constituents against these disgusting remarks,” Gallego said in a statement issued before Hurd reacted to Trump’s comments.

Abby Livingston contributed to this report.

 

Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune

Patrick Svitek is the primary political correspondent for The Texas Tribune and editor of The Blast, the Tribune's subscription-only daily newsletter for political insiders.