President Donald Trump considered ending his White House bid following the release of the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape one month before Election Day, according to one author.
Doug Wead, author of the new book, "Game of Thorns: The Inside Story of Hillary Clinton's Failed Campaign and Donald Trump's Winning Strategy," shared the revelation during an interview Wednesday with conservative radio host Chris Stigall.
The 2005 recording, first uncovered on Oct. 8 by the Washington Post's David Fahrenthold, showed Trump claiming he can "do anything" to women, including "grab them by the p***y," because he's a celebrity.
Trump considered withdrawing his name from the Republican ticket and allowing his running mate, Mike Pence, to take his place, according to the author. It was then-Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus, Wead said, who convinced Trump to stay the course.
"After ‘Access Hollywood,’ ... he briefly considered passing the torch to Pence," the author told Stigall. "[A]t that point, his family and Reince Priebus, especially, got in there and said, 'No, you can’t. You’ve got to go all the way to the end. This can’t be transferred. This is a personality following. They trust you. They don’t trust politicians.'"
Wead said it was Trump's tough exterior and rejection of political norms that thrust him to the presidency in November. In fact, the author said it was the president's "brilliant branding" that allowed him to ultimately best Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
"When you think of a brand — his brand was, ‘Make America Great Again,’ and the second part of his brand is, ‘I’m not a politician,'" Wead said. "So, when he got off message — and people complained about that all the time — he was really on message because he was saying, 'I’m not a politician, look at this dumb thing I’m saying.' It kept the ball rolling."
Rather than dropping out, Trump took to Facebook to issue a rare apology video. In the clip, the president pledged to "be a better man" and said the lewd comments he made in the 2005 video "don't reflect who I am."
"I never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not," he said. "I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them."
Trump then pivoted toward his rival, Clinton, telling viewers that the Post's timing in releasing the video was "nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we are facing today."
"We are losing our jobs, we’re less safe than we were eight years ago, and Washington is totally broken," he added. "Hillary Clinton and her kind have run our country into the ground."