Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, one of the earliest backers of Donald Trump, says he finds himself “increasingly on an island” as fellow Republicans continue to turn against the GOP nominee.
“When it comes down to election time, it is kind of every man for themselves,” the East County congressman told The Washington Post in an interview posted Wednesday. “That’s kind of how politics works.”
The Post’s Amber Phillips, who chatted with Hunter, asked if he was surprised that something from Trump’s past would came back to haunt him.
“No, not really,” Hunter said. “I think everybody knew this would happen, that some stuff would come out on some things, that somebody who is not in politics said a decade ago. I think a lot of my colleagues have not necessarily been looking for a reason to not support him but are happy to not support him given something like this.”
The Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran Hunter, 39, also said: “If you had recorded the stuff my Marines and I were talking about, after not seeing a woman for seven months — but let’s just leave it at that. And so I find [attacks on Trump] completely unfair.”
Patrick Malloy, Hunter’s opponent in the 50th Congressional District, took that comment as Hunter admitting to “committing vile behavior similar to Trump’s ravings on the bus.”
In a statement headlined “Malloy Denounces the Trump-Hunter ‘Axis of Degradation,’” the Democrat added: “Hunter’s disrespect for women is evident not only in his opposition to women’s reproductive rights but also in his wide reputation as a ‘party animal’ in Washington, DC.”
Malloy, 10 years older than his rival, said it wasn’t surprising that Hunter is excusing Trump’s bus comments “since he’s admitting to similar conduct himself.”
Four days earlier, Malloy called on Hunter to rescind his endorsement of Trump and denounce Trump’s “braggado about sexual assault and violence against women.”
He said Hunter’s voting record makes it appear that he does not respect women.
“He may have too much to hide about his own relationships with women given that he has been voted ‘party animal’ of the year twice by Capitol Hill staffers,” Malloy said a day after the 2005 tape release. “This situation is intolerable. A real man needs to stand up and protect women.”
Malloy, a Realtor, is considered a long shot to win, given Hunter’s fundraising advantage, four-term incumbency and GOP registration breakdown in the 50th district. His father, Duncan L. Hunter, was a congressman for two decades.
As of June 30, Hunter had raised $925,717 and reported $730,795 cash on hand. Malloy had raised $2,963 and had $1,390 in cash reserves. Republicans boast a 44 percent share of the 50th district, with Democrats making up 27.5 percent of voters.