California GOP Recall Candidate Once Called Trump Sexual Assault Allegations 'Child's Play'

In 2017, Larry Elder played down the allegations against Donald Trump, saying they weren't nearly as bad as the claims against Harvey Weinstein.

Larry Elder, the conservative talk radio host who is currently leading the field of Republicans hoping to unseat California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in a recall election next month, has been trying to put a bit of distance between himself and Donald Trump.

Elder recently upset some Trump supporters when he said Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election “fairly and squarely.” And last week, Elder pushed back on CNN host Michael Smerconish after he called him “a Trump-supporting radio host and attorney.”

Elder said he has not voted for a Democrat since Jimmy Carter ― a vote he regrets.

I’m a Republican and I’ve consistently voted Republican. So, to call me a Trump-supporting radio host is a little unfair is my opinion, that’s all,” he said.

But in 2017, Elder refused to condemn Trump when he faced sexual misconduct allegations from more than a dozen women.

Elder compared the allegations that Trump faced to the ones leveled against former film producer Harvey Weinstein. At the time, as ThinkProgress noted, Weinstein faced 39 accusations of sexual harassment and assault, with several women saying he raped them.

“Oh, for crying out loud,” Elder said during an appearance on “Fox & Friends” in October 2017. “Harvey Weinstein has had now ― I think it’s over 30 accusations of sexual assault, including five accusations of rape. Whatever Donald Trump has done is child’s play compared to this.”

Elder has a very disturbing view of “child’s play.” And just because someone isn’t accused of assaulting as many women as Weinstein doesn’t mean the accusations aren’t serious.

Here are some comments from women who had come forward to accuse Trump at the time of Elder’s remarks:

  • “I pushed his chest to put space between us, and I said, ‘Come on man, get real.’ He repeated my words back to me, ‘get real’ as he began thrusting his genitals. He tried to kiss me again with my hands still on his chest, and I said, dude, you’re tripping right now, attempting to make it clear I was not interested.”

  • “According to Ms. [Jessica] Leeds, Mr. Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt. ‘He was like an octopus,’ she said. ‘His hands were everywhere.’ She fled to the back of the plane. ‘It was an assault,’ she said.”

  • “Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat.”

  • “He would step in front of each girl and look you over from head to toe like we were just meat, we were just sexual objects, that we were not people.”

  • “He kissed me directly on the lips. I thought, ‘Oh my God, gross.’”

  • “This was a pretty good nudge. More of a grab. It was pretty close to the center of my butt. I was startled. I jumped.”

As ThinkProgress noted at the time, Elder also claimed that Trump “has not admitted to being a sexual assaulter at all,” even though he had. In 2016, The Washington Post published the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, a piece of 2005 audio where Trump bragged about assaulting women.

“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet,” he said in that recording. “Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

“And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” he went on. “You can do anything ... Grab them by the p***y.”

California voters will decide whether to recall Newsom on Sept. 14. They’ll be asked two questions: Do they want to recall Newsom? And if he is recalled, who do they want to take his place?

If a majority of voters are in favor of recalling Newsom, whichever candidate has the most votes will replace him ― no matter how small their actual share of the vote may be.

With more than 40 candidates vying to become the next governor, there’s a chance that Newsom could be replaced by someone who receives far fewer votes than he does.

On Thursday, Biden put out a statement urging Californians to keep Newsom. He and Vice President Kamala Harris, who previously served as U.S. senator in the state, plan to take an “active role” in fighting the recall attempt.

Elder has also promoted vaccine conspiracies and touted the endorsement of an accused Jan. 6 rioter at the U.S. Capitol. His campaign did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

At a San Francisco campaign stop on Friday, Newsom described Elder as “to the right of Donald Trump.”

The race has huge stakes for national politics and Biden’s agenda. Democrats have just a one-vote majority in the Senate, and the governor of California has the ability to appoint a senator should there be a vacancy.

There has been significant focus on the seat of 88-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and the question of whether she might retire early or be unable to serve out her current term. If a Republican becomes governor and gets to appoint a senator to fill Feinstein’s seat, it would tip the balance of the Senate.

Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.