WASHINGTON ― Maybe Republican leaders are squeamish about denouncing Donald Trump’s sexually predatory remarks because they are familiar with how conservative religious voters reacted to the ethical troubles of Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.).
For anyone who has forgotten DesJarlais, he was a doctor who was elected to Congress in the 2010 tea party wave. Two years later, not long before the next election, The Huffington Post discovered through court papers that DesJarlais had previously had sex with patients and pressured one woman to get an abortion.
He expressed contrition that year and said God had forgiven him. The Tennessee state medical board fined him for his behavior, but he went on to win all of his re-election bids, although he had one close call in a primary.
So perhaps it should not be a surprise that Christian activists, such as Ralph Reed, are standing by Trump. And even less of a surprise that DesJarlais is apparently angry that Republican leaders might question the morality of a presidential candidate who said he likes to grab women “by the pussy.”
At least, that seems to be DesJarlais’ reaction to a Republican House conference call on Monday in which DesJarlais and others thought Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was not sufficiently supportive of The Donald.
“There was an undeniable opposition to Speaker Ryan’s tepid support of our nominee,” DesJarlais told The Hill. “The vast majority of members who had an opportunity to speak on the call are not quitters and will fight for our nominee until the last ballot is counted. ... I identify myself with those members.”
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.