WASHINGTON — Sen. Ben Sasse has finally found the conservative presidential candidate he’s been seeking.
The Nebraska Republican plans to write in the name of Donald Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Nov. 8.
The Trump campaign was rocked Friday when the Washington Post released a 2005 video of Trump making lewd comments that included bragging about how his fame allowed him to kiss and grope women at will.
Sasse wrote on Twitter Saturday morning that Trump is obviously not going to win the election and that it’s time to hand over the nomination to Pence.
“He can still make an honorable move,” Sasse wrote of Trump. “Step aside & let Mike Pence try.”
Sasse spokesman James Wegmann later told The World-Herald that the senator would be putting Pence’s name on his ballot for president.
"Sasse is likely to write in Pence because he wants to see Republican principles beat Hillary Clinton,” Wegmann said.
Officially replacing Trump at the top of the ticket is complicated, however, and could be impossible in some key states. But Sasse’s plan for a Pence write-in could open up a new avenue.
Sasse was unavailable for comment himself on Saturday because he’s on an official national security “codel” or congressional delegation trip.
The Nebraska senator was among the earliest and most prominent Republicans to say that he would never support Donald Trump for president. He wrote an open letter earlier this year, even before the businessman had captured the party’s nomination.
Sasse was harshly critical of Hillary Clinton and said that he could never support her for president. But he also said that Donald Trump was not a viable contender either.
“A presidential candidate who boasts about what he'll do during his ‘reign’ and refuses to condemn the KKK cannot lead a conservative movement in America,” Sasse wrote at that time.
He has stuck to his position even as it has rankled some among the party faithful back home and drew a rebuke at the state GOP convention.
Sasse may have more company, however, as Trump’s latest controversy spreads.
A few other Republicans also were calling for Trump to step aside in the wake of Friday’s video release. Those included Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Mark Kirk of Illinois, both of whom already had been critical of Trump.
Trump did not appear to be going anywhere Friday night when he issued a video statement that included both a defiant apology, an attack on Hillary Clinton and a reference to Sunday’s night’s second presidential debate.
Sasse was not alone among Nebraska politicians denouncing the comments.
Rep. Brad Ashford, D-Neb., who supports Hillary Clinton for president, wrote on Twitter that “As a father I’m disgusted by Trump’s comments. No one should be subject to this indecency.”
Ashford’s GOP challenger Don Bacon also criticized Trump’s 2005 remarks.
“Donald Trump’s most recent comments about women are indefensible and offensive,” Bacon said in a press release. “I am disgusted by these remarks and no woman should ever be talked about in this way.”
Bacon did not, however, indicate whether he would withdraw his support for Trump’s presidential bid.