U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers said he will still be voting for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. His general election opponent, Democratic nominee Jesse Smith, said Rogers' support of Trump is "concerning."
Rogers, who represents Auburn and the rest of Alabama's 3rd Congressional District, will not abandon the candidate after lewd hot-mic recordings surfaced last week in a report by The Washington Post.
"I plan to vote for Donald Trump for president," Rogers said in a statement. "I have pledged from the beginning to support the Republican presidential nominee even if it was not one of the candidates I initially preferred."
Rogers initially supported former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the Republican primary. He said he will vote for Trump because Hillary Clinton is the wrong choice for our nation.
"A Supreme Court under Mrs. Clinton would be destructive to everything we hold dear in Alabama from protecting the rights of unborn children to our Second Amendment rights," Rogers said.
"Additionally, we must repeal and replace Obamacare and start to roll back some of the overly burdensome EPA and Dodd-Frank financial regulations that are destroying our economy. Only a Trump presidency can make these possible."
In the recordings, Donald Trump can be heard bragging about groping and kissing women without their permission.
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“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump said in the 2005 recording. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”
“And when you’re a star, they let you do it. ... You can do anything.”
The recording dates back to an interview with former Access Hollywood host Billy Bush.
Other prominent Alabama Republicans have refused to support Trump following the fallout, including Rep. Martha Roby and Gov. Robert Bentley. Others — including Rogers, ALGOP Chairwoman Terry Lathan and Sen. Jeff Sessions — are sticking by the Republican nominee.
Rep. Bradley Byrne issued a press release Saturday in which he called for Trump to step down and allow vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence to take the helm. However, Byrne still plans to support the Republican ticket.
Rogers is up for reelection next month. He will face Democratic challenger Jesse Smith on the Nov. 8 ballot.
"It's very concerning," Smith told The Auburn Plainsman. "Not the fact that he's voting for Trump — people have their own choices, and people are going to vote for who they want. That's the beauty of living in America. But the fact that he's willing to continue to support him, that sets precedents."
Smith said Rogers' support of Trump despite his comments, which many say amount to a description of sexual assault, is especially concerning for a place like Auburn University. Auburn, like all universities, struggles with sexual assaults on its campus.
"Right here at Auburn University, we've heard stories of sexual assault, and many other places around the 3rd District," Smith said. "Mike Rogers voted against the Violence Against Women Act. He voted against equal pay for women. He has a clear pattern of a lack of regard for women, and especially with regard to the violent nature of a lot of these sexual assaults."
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