CTNewsJunkie file photo
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, and Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven (CTNewsJunkie file photo)

For Republican candidates running for the Connecticut House or Senate, their decision to either support or denounce their Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is personal and “irrelevant,” according to Republican legislative leaders.

Republican leaders across the country have been distancing themselves from Trump days after hearing comments he made on a hot mic in 2005 about the power his celebrity gives him to grope women.

“I understand the reaction and I hope that we can accept Donald Trump’s apology the same way America and Hillary accepted Bill Clinton’s,” JR Romano, chairman of the Connecticut Republican Party, said Monday.

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said he thinks it’s good Trump came out and apologized for his disrespectful remarks, but the race for the state Senate has nothing to do with it.

“This is about Connecticut,” Fasano, who has refused to endorse Trump, said Monday.

Fasano said no one cares who candidates for state Senate are voting for in the presidential contest. He said they care about the direction of Connecticut and whether “you’re wrapping your arms around the failed policies of Gov. Dannel Malloy or against them.”

Fasano said he has yet to be asked by a voter in his district about who he’s supporting in the presidential contest. He said he would have different advice for candidates running for Congress.

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said what Trump says is not going to hurt any of the candidates running for the House. She said that’s because over the past three election cycles they’ve been able to pick up 27 seats.

“Look there are some areas of the state that are very supportive of Donald Trump,” Klarides said. “But no one is making the connection between Trump and the rest of the Republican ticket.”

She said if you have a disagreement with a friend there’s an opportunity to have a face-to-face conversation with them. That’s not the case with a presidential candidate. Klarides pointed out that Trump’s remarks prove he is sexually insecure.

“I don’t know anyone who didn’t find what he said offensive,” Klarides said.

However, that doesn’t mean she won’t be voting for him.

“I can’t see how he’s not the best choice,” Klarides said.

However, Connecticut Democrats who are working to maintain their 87-64 and 21-15 majorities in the House and the Senate hope voters do care about how Republican candidates will be voting on Nov. 8.

“Connecticut Republicans have watched Trump degrade women, mock people with disabilities, attack a Gold Star family, launch racist attacks against a Mexican-American judge, and lead the despicable efforts to question the citizenship of our first African-American president, and only now decided to feign shock,” Leigh Appleby, a spokesman for the Connecticut Democratic Party, said. “Connecticut Republicans stayed silent on Trump for too long. On November 8, they should be held accountable for their decision to stand by Donald Trump and his campaign of hate and division.”

Democratic Senators joined Appleby in calling for Republicans to publicly speak up about Trump.

“Good leadership and good judgment require a willingness to stand up to other leaders who say or do something wrong,” Sen. Mae Flexer, D-Killingly, said. “I have stood up to members of my own party when the occasion called for it. It requires strong conviction and a deep commitment to stand up to leaders of your own party.”

She said Republicans should put aside party loyalty and condemn Trump’s remarks.

“That every Republican leader has not condemned these remarks and withdrawn their support for Mr. Trump speaks volumes. Blind political loyalty should not beat out basic human decency,” Flexer said.

“I am disappointed that the Connecticut Republicans did not come out publicly and condemn Donald Trump’s lewd and vulgar behavior,” Sen. Marilyn Moore, D-Bridgeport, said. “I would have hoped that the state Republicans would have stood up for what is right and spoken out against Mr. Trump.”

Lindsay Farrell, executive director of the Working Families Party, said Trump’s comments were dangerous.

“As a woman, I am deeply troubled by Republican attempts to deflect attention away from Trump’s misogyny by blaming Hillary Clinton for her husband’s infidelity,” Farrell said.  “This line of attack is absolutely horrific and sexist. Sadly, we’re used to it coming from Trump, but some local Republicans – like Themis Klarides – have joined Trump in normalizing these attacks in Connecticut. It’s indefensible, and especially reprehensible coming from the House Minority leader who has the ambition to win control of the State House and become Speaker. Republicans need to stop apologizing for Trump and withdraw their support now.”