The general election phase of a presidential campaign is when a party nominee, having garnered the majority of the party’s primary voter base, tries to expand that base to include “swing voters,” and even moderates from the other party. This year, however, Donald Trump, the Republican Party presidential nominee, is hemorrhaging Republicans while simultaneously failing to grow his base. As a result, the Republicans are in panic mode, with no end to the bleeding in sight.
Here is just a partial list of Republicans and those who have served Republican presidents, who say they won’t support or vote for Donald Trump this year. Some of them also say they will vote for Hillary Clinton:
–Former presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush
—John Kasich, the Governor of Ohio and the last challenger to Trump left in the Republican primaries. Kasich’s support for the Republican Party nominee is crucial. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio. Kasich did leave the door open to voting for Trump, but said “he’s going to have to change.” Given today’s comments by Trump suggesting that “Second Amendment people” take matters into their own hands if Hillary Clinton becomes president, it would be difficult to make a case that Trump has changed in any way since Kasich’s statement in June.
—Republican U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham, Mark Kirk, Ben Sasse and Susan Collins. Additionally, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona has sharply criticized Trump, but has not yet said if he will vote for Trump.
–U.S. Representatives Richard Hanna, Scott Riggell, Adam Kinzinger and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Hanna said Trump is “unfit to serve our party and cannot lead this country,” and that he will vote for Hillary Clinton. According to Hanna:
I think Trump is a national embarrassment. Is he really the guy you want to have the nuclear codes?
Trump lacks the caution and careful judgment that is required by a future president of the United States when forming national-security and foreign-policy decisions.
—Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan and adviser to President George H.W. Bush, says he will vote for Hillary Clinton.
–50 former national security and trade officials in Republican administrations — including former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, Homeland Security Secretaries Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, and CIA Director Michael Hayden — signed a letter this week saying they would not vote for Trump, and that “Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be President.”
—Meg Whitman, former Hewlett-Packard executive and eBay CEO who ran for Governor of California in 2010 as a Republican. Whitman says she will vote and campaign for Hillary Clinton. According to Whitman, Republicans must “put country first before party.” She calls Trump “a dishonest demagogue” who could lead America “on a very dangerous journey.”
—Christie Todd Whitman, former New Jersey Governor and George W. Bush’s EPA Administrator.
–Republican former Michigan Governor William Milliken, who says Trump “does not embrace” the ideals of “tolerance, civility and equality.”
—William Ruckleshaus and William Reilly, both former EPA administrators under Republican presidents.
–Billionaires Warren Buffett (who is campaigning for Clinton) and Mike Bloomberg (who gave a very effective speech endorsing Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in July).
–Florida Republican Party communications chief Wadi Gaitan, who is Hispanic and conservative, is so turned off by Trump that he is leaving the GOP, and “avoiding efforts that support Donald Trump.”
—Evan McMullin, a Republican former CIA officer and Congressional staffer, who is launching a conservative third-party bid for president to challenge Trump.
—David Brooks, the Republican New York Times pundit generally considered thoughtful and somewhat moderate. Also among pundits is conservative George Will, who left the Republican Party in June after Trump attacked a federal judge in Indiana over the judge’s Mexican heritage.
It appears that many such Republicans, regardless of their differences with Democrats, nevertheless have a threshold requirement of temperament and judgment for the presidency, which they believe Donald Trump does not meet. In addition, House Speaker Paul Ryan, the most powerful Republican in the country, gave a tepid endorsement of Trump, and Trump at first refused to endorse Ryan in his re-election campaign. Ditto for U.S. Senator John McCain, whom Trump previously disparaged as not a war hero because McCain had been captured. Likewise, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has criticized but grudgingly endorsed Trump.
The panic in the GOP over these Republican rejections and half-hearted endorsements of Donald Trump has reached a heightened state, especially as Trump’s poll numbers are in free-fall. Last week, there was talk of a Trump “intervention” by a group including Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Trump supporters Newt Gingrich and Rudolph Giuliani. A group of conservatives has circulated a petition calling for Trump’s replacement. Today, Republican Matt Latimer, a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times suggested that Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, try to pressure Trump to quit the campaign and take over the top spot himself. However, any Trump exit before the election would be horribly messy both from a legal and a political standpoint, and simply may not be feasible.
There are only about 91 days left until Election Day. If the GOP abandonment of Donald Trump continues, not only Trump but the divided Republican Party could be headed for historic losses this November, including down-ballot in Congress and elsewhere. Perhaps that’s what it will take for the party that nominated Trump to return to the fold of governing, and sanity.
Photo by mathiaswasik, used under Creative Commons license. https://is.gd/i7ZNTA