They may be disappointed or dismayed, but Donald Trump's supporters are standing by their man.
Lynette Villano was coming out of a screening of The Girl on the Train on Friday when her phone buzzed with news about the 2005 video that is sending shockwaves through the U.S. presidential campaign. In it, Mr. Trump describes women in crude and vulgar terms and boasts about groping them, because when someone is a "star," he says, "you can do anything."
Ms. Villano, 70, watched the video herself. But it didn't alter her feelings about the Republican nominee, nor did it shift the allegiances of several of her friends who are women. "I do not see anyone changing their minds about Donald Trump, not at all," said Ms. Villano, who lives in West Pittston, Pa. "Nobody liked the language that was used," she added, then pointed out that Mr. Trump has apologized for what he said and his wife Melania had come to his defence.
"Everybody can put it in perspective," Ms. Villano said. "This is something that was said in a private conversation and it sat on a shelf for 11 years."
Mr. Trump is banking on supporters like Ms. Villano to help him survive what some believe may be a mortal blow to his campaign. At least 20 senior Republican lawmakers – including three state governors and five U.S. senators – have withdrawn their support for his candidacy in the wake of the video's release. Other Republicans have gone further, calling on Mr. Trump to step aside for the good of the party and the country. On Saturday, Condoleezza Rice, a former Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, wrote on Facebook, "Enough! Donald Trump should not be president. He should withdraw."
For Mr. Trump's fervent supporters in northeastern Pennsylvania, such condemnations mattered little. They preferred to focus on the flaws of Mr. Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton, and emphasized that Mr. Trump had spoken in what he believed was a private setting, years before he ever considered running for Office.
With its explicit language and offensive descriptions, the video made for some uncomfortable conversations. Gary Marinangeli, 65, a Trump supporter who lives in the town of Moscow, Pa., hadn't heard the details of the revelations. When read the text of the video by The Globe and Mail, Mr. Marinangeli simply said, "Oh god." Hearing more, he repeated himself: "Oh god. He's burning his bridges."
Yet the knowledge of what Mr. Trump had said didn't sway Mr. Marinangeli's thinking. "A vote for Hillary to me is a vote for ISIS, because they haven't done nothing to fight them and it's escalating," he said. "There's a lot wrong with Trump, agreed. This is the worst election in a long time. But you don't have much of a choice here."
Paul Middleton, a retired police officer who lives in Wyoming, Pa., has a Trump campaign sign on his lawn and campaign stickers on his car. "Do I like what he said? No," said Mr. Middleton, 50, when asked for his reaction to the video. "Did he think it was in private? Yes. Do people say things in private that [they] wouldn't say in public? Yes."
Mr. Middleton added that over his career and his service as a U.S. Marine, he had heard "worse, much worse." He slammed what he called the "false indignation" of Mr. Trump's critics. "These are the same people who watched Sex in the City and that show with Lena Dunham, Girls," he said.
Mr. Middleton was planning to attend a Trump rally in nearby Wilkes-Barre on Monday, a day after the second debate showdown between the two presidential candidates. But now he's not sure whether he's going to go.
"I'm a little disappointed, I gotta be honest," he said of Mr. Trump's behaviour in the video. "But I'll probably still end up voting for him."