BBC-Senior Republicans have condemned obscene comments Donald Trump made about women in a 2005 videotape.In the video, posted by the Washington Post, Mr Trump is heard telling TV host Billy Bush “you can do anything” to women “when you’re a star”.
Mr Trump later issued an apology: “I said it. I was wrong, I apologise. I pledge to be a better man.”
In a filmed statement on his Facebook page, he added that the videotape was a “distraction” from more important political issues.
Earlier on Friday, when the video first emerged, he had dismissed it as “locker room banter” and added “Bill Clinton has said far worse to me”.
He attacked the former president in his Facebook apology.
“I’ve said some foolish things, but there’s a big difference between the words and actions of other people,” he said.
“Bill Clinton has actually abused women. And Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days.”
After the video became public on Friday evening, senior Republicans were harsh in their condemnation of Mr Trump’s comments.
House Speaker Paul Ryan rescinded his invitation to Mr Trump to attend the Republican Fall Fest in his home state of Wisconsin this weekend.
Mr Trump said that his vice-presidential running mate Mike Pence would represent him at the Wisconsin event.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said the comments were “repugnant,” adding that Mr Trump “needs to apologise directly to women and girls everywhere”.
Another senior Republican, John McCain, said there were “no excuses for Donald Trump’s offensive and demeaning comments”.
The video has emerged two days before Mr Trump takes part in the second presidential debate with his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
The two candidates will be in St Louis for the televised encounter, with polling day only a month away.
The clip was part of unaired footage of an Access Hollywood segment ahead of Mr Trump’s appearance on the soap opera Days of Our Lives.
“I moved on her and I failed. I’ll admit it,” Trump is heard saying. “She was married. And I moved on her very heavily.”
“I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.”
Later in the conversation, he told Bush he is “automatically attracted to beautiful” women and often tries to kiss them.
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“I just start kissing them,” he said. “I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.”
“Grab them by the pussy,” Mr Trump says. “You can do anything.”
Mr Trump issued a statement shortly after the footage was leaked.
“This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago,” the statement read.
“Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close. I apologise if anyone was offended.”
For his part, Mr Bush said he was “embarrassed and ashamed” at the contents of the video.
“It’s no excuse, but this happened 11 years ago – I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I’m very sorry.”
Analysis by BBC North America reporter Anthony Zurcher
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a town hall-style forum in Sandown, New Hampshire.Image copyrightAP
Donald Trump has often found himself in hot water for public comments he’s made about women over the years. It turns out he’s said lewd and disparaging things in private as well. Go figure.
The videotape release comes at a most inopportune time for the Republican nominee, who was trying to use his running mate’s well-received debate performance on Tuesday to reboot his campaign after a week of distractions and controversy. On Wednesday he told a local news interviewer that his previous offensive comments about women – which have dogged his campaign since the first Republican primary debate last August – were made for the “purpose of entertainment”.
That explanation doesn’t fit with the boorish, newly married Trump shown on the video privately boasting about his efforts to seduce a married woman and have his way with whomever he pleases.
Now Mr Trump will enter Sunday’s debate with a new cloud hanging over his candidacy. It’s almost certain that one of the town hall participants will ask him about it. There may be no easy way to respond – but Mr Trump will have to find an acceptable answer. If he bungles it, everything else he says during the 90-minute debate won’t matter.
Hillary Clinton described the comments as “horrific”.
“We cannot allow this man to become president,” she posted on Twitter.
Mr Trump has said he will not bring up stories about Bill Clinton’s infidelities in this Sunday’s US presidential debate after previously threatening to do so.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said: “I am sickened by what I heard today.
“I hope Mr Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests.”