Democratic congressional candidate DuWayne Gregory on Tuesday challenged Rep. Peter King to rescind his endorsement of Donald Trump, after comments by women who have said Trump groped them.
At a news conference in Deer Park, Gregory picked up on an issue many Democratic candidates are using in their campaigns. Gregory is challenging King (R-Seaford) in the 2nd Congressional District.
“The time is long past due for Congressman King to withdraw his endorsement and support of a man whom he only last February deemed morally unfit to be president,” said Gregory, an Amityville resident who serves as presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature.
Gregory was referring to comments King made during the Republican presidential primary. King first backed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and then Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, before endorsing Trump.
Some Republicans withdrew their endorsements of Trump after the release earlier this month of a 2005 video in which Trump bragged about forcibly kissing and groping women. Trump apologized for the comments, but denied he had ever committed such acts.
Several women subsequently came forward to say Trump groped them. He has denied all the allegations.
King called the 2005 videotaped comments “offensive and indefensible,” but said he still supported Trump. Of the women who later came forward to say Trump groped them, King said Tuesday: “Right now they’re allegations. I’m not criticizing the women who made them and I’m not criticizing Trump.”
Gregory has tried frequently to make Trump a campaign issue, but King said he doesn’t believe it will sway voters. He noted that he hasn’t tried to attack Gregory for supporting Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, despite her use of a private email server as U.S. secretary of state that brought a strong rebuke, but no criminal charges, from FBI director James Comey.
“I can understand why he’s doing it,” King said of Gregory’s attempts to make Trump an issue. “I can go after him for things Hillary Clinton has done with the emails. He should be laying out his agenda, saying the things he disagrees with me on. But politics is politics.”
Gregory initially announced that Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens) would join him at the news conference Tuesday, but Meeks was unable to attend.
Meeks, whom King called a friend, said in a statement issued later by Gregory’s campaign that he was “honored to join DuWayne Gregory today to continue this conversation and to stand up for women in our communities.”