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Doug Mills / The New York Times

October 12, 2016

Campus Reels After Release of Trump Tape

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After a bombshell weekend for the 2016 presidential race, the Cornell Democrats and Cornell Republicans remain split on which candidate should win in November, but both groups have reached and reaffirmed an unlikely consensus: the Republican nominee is an embarrassment and a danger.

While there has never been any doubt that the Cornell Democrats would support their party’s nominee, the Cornell Republicans took the controversial step of abandoning their party’s standard bearer and endorsing libertarian candidate Gary Johnson last month.

After the Friday release of a tape showing Republican nominee Donald Trump making disparaging remarks about women — recounting how he enjoyed kissing and groping them without their consent and how they would let him do so because he is a “star” — the Cornell Republicans remain as committed as ever in their opposition to the candidate.

“I am honestly sick of this election: it has become a joke. Donald Trump does not represent the Republican party,” said Cornell Republicans President Olivia Corn ’19, referencing Trump’s performance in Sunday’s debate. “No Republican I have ever met has any qualities similar to Trump, and it sickens me to see how far his campaign has gone.”

Cornell Democrats went further, calling Trump’s remarks on the tape “appalling” and his debate performance “painfully embarrassing,” referencing moments in which Trump admitted that he used tax law to refuse to pay federal income taxes and threatened to imprison Clinton if he wins.

“[Trump] is rape culture personified with his characterization of his words as ‘locker room talk,’” said Gunjan Hooja ’17, vice president of the Cornell Democrats. “I’m angry at Trump for making this an election about him rather than the people and for dragging the country down with him.”

While the Cornell Republicans also condemned Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s debate performance — Corn said she “despises” Clinton more every time she opens her mouth — the Cornell Democrats lauded the Democratic nominee for remaining “unfazed” during the debate.

“Clinton deftly highlighted Trump’s long record of hate, defused his conspiratorial rhetoric and explained her agenda for improving the lives of Americans,” said Cornell Democrats President Kevin Kowalewski ’17.

Corn added that she wished that Johnson, her club’s choice for president, had been present on the debate stage to force Clinton to “actually answer questions on her foreign policy record, and force Trump to prepare more than one liners attacking Clinton.” Johnson made headlines in early September when he failed to recognize the name of Aleppo, the Syrian city that has been the epicenter of the country’s refugee crisis, and again a few weeks later when he was unable to name a foreign leader he admired.

Austin McLaughlin ’18, Cornell Republicans executive director, lamented that the Commission on Presidential Debate’s rules closed out third party voices like Johnson’s.

“Gary Johnson and [his running mate] Bill Weld would have offered a mediating perspective to millions of Americans that likely agree with them but do not know enough about their campaign,” McLaughlin said. “Unfortunately that perspective was never provided due to the CPD cutting them out of the debates despite being within the margin of error of 15 percent. We are left with two extremely disliked candidates, one an ‘extremely careless’ stateswoman — to quote FBI Director James Comey — and the other an unfit blowhard.”

McLaughlin added that Trump’s debate performance should exacerbate opinions that Trump has failed to outline a coherent, consistent stance on important policy issues. McLaughlin referenced Trump’s disagreement with his running mate, Mike Pence, on how to best handle the crisis in Syria, and Trump’s shift from advocating an all-out ban on Muslim immigration to calling for “extreme vetting” of Muslim immigrants as evidence that Trump has not “thoroughly thought out” his platform.

“Although I do not agree with Clinton’s positions on many issues, at least they were coherently framed,” McLaughlin said. “Trump darted from one idea to the next, and at times did not answer the question.”

Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY), who represents the Ithaca area and was one of the first congressmen to endorse Trump, issued a statement Monday condemning the Republican nominee’s remarks on the tape. However, he refused to join a growing crowd of Republicans withdrawing their support for the candidate, saying instead that a “Hillary Clinton presidency is unacceptable.”

“We have to change the D.C. establishment — so I continue supporting Donald Trump as an outsider who will shake up D.C.,” Reed said in the statement.

Reed’s seat is being challenged by Democrat John Plumb, a former staffer in the Obama administration.

Madeline Cohen contributed reporting to this story.