Donald Trump’s candidacy has the Republican Party at a crossroads. Trump won the votes, fair and square, but an ever-larger list of Republican big wigs have shunned his candidacy, revealing it as the racist, sexist, xenophobic ego trip it really is.
This week brought two more high-profile Trump defections: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. They certainly won’t be the last. For now, here’s a list of Republican politicians who have turned their backs on the chosen nominee of their party.
For both Bush Presidents, silence speaks louder than words. Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008 but they decided to stay on the sidelines this year. Spokesmen for the former presidents said on May 4 that they would not participate or comment on Trump’s presidential efforts.
Former Florida Gov. and Republican candidate for president Jeb Bush went further than his father and brother, saying that he will abstain from voting in the presidential election next November, as well as from attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. In a Facebook post, Bush accused Trump of not being a true conservative and of having no respect for the Constitution.
“In November, I will not vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, but I will support principled conservatives at the state and federal levels, just as I have done my entire life,” his statement read.
Former GOP Nominee and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has been on a crusade to find a Republican alternative to Trump, who he thinks is a racist. Conservative writer David French seemed like Romney’s choice until French pulled out of a possible third-party candidacy. Romney now says he’s considering Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, although he’s still not convinced of Johnson’s support for marijuana, a drug Romney believes “makes people stupid.” Poor Romney is faced with supporting marijuana legalization, a bigot, or an evil Democrat.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich pledged he would support whoever became the Republican nominee, but he just can’t keep that promise. The former GOP presidential candidate called this decision “painful.”
“I’m not going [to the RNC] to disrupt,” Kasich insisted. “I gave it my best, I didn’t win, I have no regrets about the way I conducted myself, and I’m not interested in being a spoiler.” Kasich, the fourth sitting GOP governor to say he won’t vote for Trump, says he has rejected countless offers to run as a third-party candidate, but is not ready to support Trump. “People even get divorces, you know?” Kasich said, “Sometimes things come about that, look, ‘I’m sorry this has happened, but we’ll see where it ends up.’ I’m not making any final decision yet, but at this point I just can’t do it.”
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker was a huge Trump opponent during the Republican primary season and the first sitting Republican governor to announce he wouldn’t vote for the GOP nominee. Unlike many other Republicans who switched positions once Trump effectively won the nomination, Baker stood his ground, saying he will not vote for Trump and will instead focus on down ballot races. “Some of the things he’s said about women and about Muslims and about religious freedom I just can’t support.” Baker has said about Trump.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, like both President Bushes, decided to stay quiet about the presidential race. He has not said whether he will vote for Trump, but has affirmed he will not endorse him. “I’ve stayed out of the whole thing, and I’m going to continue to,” he said. Like Baker, Snyder says he will focus on reelecting Republicans in his state of Michigan.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told reporters this week that he does not “plan to” vote for Trump in November, becoming the second sitting GOP governor to explicitly state he wouldn’t be voting for Trump.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN this month that the Republican party has been “conned” and that he will not be voting for either Clinton or Trump in the coming election and will not be attending the Republican convention in July. “This is the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy,” Graham said of Trump. “If anybody was looking for an off-ramp, this is probably it. There’ll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary.”
Graham has remained consistent about his feelings for Trump. Last year, as he suspended his bid for the GOP candidacy, Graham called Trump “a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.”
Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse took to Facebook to plead for a third-party candidate in May. “Why shouldn’t America draft an honest leader who will focus on 70-percent solutions for the next four years?” the GOP senator questioned. “You know…an adult?”
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake urged his colleagues to follow his lead and hold their endorsements for Trump after the the presumptive nominee made inflammatory remarks about Judge Gonzalo Curiel. “None of us want to be in this position,” Flake added. “But there are certain things that you can’t do as a candidate. And some of the things he’s done I think are beyond the pale.”
Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk said he will not be voting for Trump or Clinton. “I do not support Hillary Clinton and I told the public that I did not support Donald Trump, either. I think he’s too bigoted and racist for the Land of Lincoln,” said Kirk, before adding that instead, he’s going to write former CIA director David Petraus’ name on the ballot.
Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has also stated she will not vote for Trump. In an official statement, the Cuban-born congresswoman said that although she will work with whomever becomes president, “In this election, I do not support either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.”
Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, who also served as George W. Bush’s EPA administrator, encouraged New Jersey GOP voters to vote for someone other than Trump in her state’s primary, even if he had already clinched the nomination. Not only has Whitman announced she will not vote for Trump, she compared him to Hitler and Mussolini. “Trump especially is employing the kind of hateful rhetoric and exploiting the insecurities of this nation, in much the same way that allowed Hitler and Mussolini to rise to power in the lead-up to World War II. The parallels are chilling.” Whitman said.
It makes sense then that she is considering voting for Clinton. “You’ll see a lot of Republicans do that,” Whitman said in February. “We don’t want to, but I know I won’t vote for Trump.”
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, also former secretary of Homeland Security, has said Trump is “an embarrassment” and asserted he will not vote for him. “I think Donald Trump is about celebrities, he’s about publicity. He’s not about bringing a serious mindset toward trying to address the wide range of security challenges in this country,” Ridge has said.
Former North Dakota Senator Larry Pressler has gone further than most Republicans in his efforts to stop Trump — he officially endorsed Hillary Clinton after last week’s Orlando shooting. “I can’t believe I’m endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, but I am,” said Pressler. “If someone had told me 10 years ago I would do this, I wouldn’t have believed them.”
Pressler warned of the danger of being silent against what he thinks is “starting to sound like the German elections in [the late 1920s].”
“A lot of Republicans are just saying, ‘I’ll sit it out, I won’t vote.’ Or, ‘I’ll vote for a third-party candidate.’ But if they don’t vote, they are giving more power to dark forces.”
Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who served in the George W. Bush administration, has also announced that he will endorse Clinton over Trump. “He doesn’t appear to be to be a Republican, he doesn’t appear to want to learn about issues. So I’m going to vote for Mrs. Clinton.” he said of Trump.
Armitage, who served in the last three GOP administrations, is the highest ranking Republican former national security official to refuse to support Trump.
Photo: Republican U.S. presidental candidate Governor John Kasich speaks to supporters after being declared the winner of the Ohio primary by the television networks, during a campaign rally in Berea, Ohio, March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk