SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
We begin with politics. It is not the family-friendly portion of our program. A tape has been released of Donald Trump making crude comments when he was being recorded for a 2005 appearance on "Access Hollywood." This is just a portion we can play.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
DONALD TRUMP: You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful - I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet.
BILLY BUSH: (Laughter).
TRUMP: Just kiss - I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
SIMON: The Washington Post released the recording last night. In it, Trump brags in graphic, vulgar language of trying to commit adultery and forcing himself on women. He released a statement on video at midnight apologizing for his remarks. Then he criticized Bill Clinton. NPR's Ron Elving joins us. Ron, thanks for being with us.
RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott.
SIMON: How do we characterize these comments without risking the licenses of our stations?
ELVING: It is a challenge. But this sound, these conversations, these words are out there. It's on the internet. Even mainstream websites are including this conversation. And it's the kind of conversation you didn't think you would hear other than, perhaps, in a porn film. So suffice it to say, he uses the crudest possible terms for sex and for parts of a woman's body. And there is casual bragging about extramarital forays. And, you know, Scott, we've been here before...
SIMON: And forcing himself on women, predatory behavior.
ELVING: Yes, yes, and it seems that, in a way, we've been here before. We're shaking our heads over things that Donald Trump has said. But this videotape, utterly and undisputed in its authenticity - owned last night by Donald Trump - it still seems breathtaking. It seems different. And it seems likely to strike a nerve more than any of the previous Trump controversies.
SIMON: A lot of big-name Republicans rushed to denounce his comments. Any movement, though, to withdraw their endorsements?
ELVING: Some have done so. The governor of Utah, a congressman from Utah and there have been others, some of the women in Congress who are Republicans. But the more typical behavior has been distancing, disowning him, saying this is in no sense representative of other Republicans.
House Speaker Paul Ryan canceled a joint appearance he was going to have with Trump in his home state today, Wisconsin that is, Paul Ryan's home state, in his district. It was a unity rally for the Wisconsin Republican Party. And other Republicans have been swift to condemn the remarks. And the Clinton campaign, of course, has said the comments were horrific and a clear demonstration that Donald Trump could not be president.
SIMON: I ask this next one seriously, Ron - do you see any movement to try to replace Donald Trump as the Republican nominee by calling for him to step down?
ELVING: That is underway and mainly among fundraisers and among elements of the party that have been critical of Trump all along, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for example. But Trump would have to willingly leave the ticket to even begin this process. And even if he did, 30 days out from the election, replacing him on ballots would be extremely difficult - quite a few state deadlines have already passed.
SIMON: Trump closed that midnight statement by promising to make the personal lives of the Clintons a topic for the debates on Sunday. That might be must-watch TV for many, but will this wind up just offending more voters?
ELVING: It surely already has. And the threat about the Clintons is not new. Of course, he made it in the first debate. He is also very likely to bring up what we have learned in the last 24 hours from a Wikileaks release that includes emails that were apparently hacked and given to Wikileaks, which indicate that some of the speech material that she has not been willing to release - the Goldman Sachs speech and so forth - we don't have this actually authenticated. We don't know that this is real. But it seems to indicate that she spoke in friendly terms about open borders and open markets to Goldman Sachs.
SIMON: Ron, even if Donald Trump performs like Abe Lincoln in Sunday night's debate, does it erase the damage of this tape?
ELVING: It's hard to unring the bell. It's difficult to imagine that the people who have finally lost patience with Donald Trump in the Republican Party are going to be able to reconcile themselves to him after this.
SIMON: NPR senior political editor Ron Elving, thanks very much.
ELVING: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.