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Leader of Iowa Republican women's group quits over Trump

Melissa Gesing led organization that seeks to get Republican women elected in Iowa

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DES MOINES — The president of an organization working to get Republican women elected in Iowa has resigned because she says she no longer can support Donald Trump, who she says promotes “racism, sexism and hate.”

Melissa Gesing submitted her resignation Tuesday evening, quitting her post as president of the Iowa Federation of Republican Women. In her letter, Gesing said she cannot fulfill the group’s mission while Trump is the party’s presidential candidate.

Trump has come under intense criticism — including from within his own party — since last week’s report of a 2005 video on which he makes lewd comments about using his celebrity status to grope women.

In a blog post published Tuesday, Gesing likened her decision to summoning the courage to leave a “bad and unhealthy relationship.”

“Part of the problem with getting out of the relationship is that you keep convincing yourself that things are going to get better. While they often briefly get better, they continue to get worse until the downs are lower than one ever thought possible,” Gesing wrote.

Gesing said she was troubled by Trump’s words and actions from early in his campaign, but that she continued to work for the organization to support other Republicans.

Gesing wrote that she was hopeful when Trump named former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate and Kellyanne Conway as his campaign manager.

“I thought, ‘Finally, a woman is in charge! Maybe now Trump is going to apologize, and he’s going to do the things that need to be done to right the ship,’” she wrote.

But the latest revelation of his comments was the last straw for Gesing.

“I don’t claim to have the moral high ground, and I don’t claim that any of our candidates are perfect. However, there is a clear line that has been stepped across when candidates fuel racism and sexism and the darkest parts of our minds — over, and over, and over again,” she wrote.

In an interview, Gesing said the response to her decision is “overwhelmingly positive.”

“That’s what I admire about the people in my party and Republican women: we can agree to disagree sometimes,” she said.

The Trump campaign said it, too, has received support from women since the recorded remarks were revealed.

“The Trump-Pence Iowa team is encouraged by the outpouring of support among Iowan women for Mr. Trump’s candidacy, specifically over the past week,” Eric Branstad, the state director for the Trump campaign in Iowa, said in a statement.

For all of The Gazette's Election 2016 coverage, please visit our election coverage center.

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