WASHINGTON -  Prominent Republicans issued blistering responses to newly disclosed audio of Donald Trump in which their presidential candidate is engaged in a vulgar  conversation about groping and seducing women.

The recording, released on Friday by The Washington Post, has forced Trump to apologize as Republicans warn about the demise of his presidential race.

The embarrassing audio was recorded in 2005 while Trump was on a bus with former "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush.

The billionaire  businessman can be heard talking about his failed attempt to seduce a “married” woman. "I moved on her and I failed. I'll admit it. She was married. And I moved on her very heavily."

He also says, “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful” women. "I just start kissing them," he says. "I don't even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

Late Friday, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, said he was "sickened" and cancelled a "unity appearance" with Trump that had been scheduled for Saturday in Wisconsin.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, said that Trump's remarks "are repugnant and unacceptable in any circumstance" and the nominee "needs to apologize directly to women and girls everywhere."

McConnell made the condemnation despite the fact that he has generally avoided commenting on Trump's controversial statements in the past.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz, a senior Republican from Utah, announced that he was retracting his endorsement of Trump.

Gary Herbert, the governor of Utah, followed suit, saying he cannot vote for Trump either.

US Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, who was one of Trump’s rivals earlier in the primaries before dropping out, denounced the comments as well.

Senator John McCain also voiced his condemnation for Trump’s comments.

“There are no excuses for Donald Trump’s offensive and demeaning comments," the Arizona senator said in a statement. "No woman should ever be victimized by this kind of inappropriate behaviour. He alone bears the burden of his conduct and alone should suffer the consequences."

Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton,  tweeted that "this is horrific. We cannot allow this man to become president."

On Saturday, Trump apologized for the lewd and sexually explicit remarks he made a decade ago. He posted a defiant 90-second video just after midnight on social media, saying he is not a "perfect person" and the comments "don't reflect who I am."

Trump has previously come under attack over his disparaging comments about women, immigrants and Muslims.

He has called for all Muslims to be banned from entering the US. He also advocated forced deportation of Mexican migrants by building a long wall along the US-Mexico border.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump rejected calls that he step aside as the Republican presidential nominee over lewd videotaped remarks about women, telling The Wall Street Journal on Saturday there is “zero chance I’ll quit.”

“I never, ever give up,” the newspaper quoted Trump as saying following calls by some Republicans that he quit the race after being caught in a 2005 videotape boasting of groping women’s genitals with impunity.

“Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize,” Trump said early Saturday in a videotaped statement posted on his Twitter account.

It was believed to be the first apology of his 16-month White House campaign, one peppered by controversies over his treatment of women.

But Trump then undercut his words, calling the disclosure a “distraction,” defiantly attacking the Clintons for husband Bill Clinton’s past infidelities, and hinting strongly he would have more to say on the topic in Sunday’s debate in St Louis, Missouri.

“We will discuss this more in the coming days. See you at the debate on Sunday,” he said.

In The Wall Street Journal interview, Trump denied his campaign was in crisis, and predicted the controversy would blow over.

“The support I’m getting is unbelievable, because Hillary Clinton is a horribly flawed candidate,” he said.