Sunday 8 May 2016


We’ve been hearing it for months: Many established Republicans won’t support Donald Trump if he becomes their party’s 2016 presidential nominee.

But after his most recent victories in six northeastern states at the end of April and his sweep in Indiana on Tuesday, the New York billionaire is fewer than 200 delegates short of earning the required 1,237 to clinch the nomination. And as of Wednesday, he’s the only remaining GOP contender in the race, after both Ted Cruz and John Kasich suspended their campaigns.

Since Tuesday night, when Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus urged the party to unite behind the real estate tycoon, several prominent Republicans have publicly said they won’t back Trump in the general election. And some have said they will skip the Republican National Convention, scheduled for July 18 through 21 in Cleveland.

Trump’s inflammatory remarks toward immigrants and women have given pause to some members of the party, while others differ on his policy stances (or lack thereof) on issues including the economy, foreign affairs and international trade, to name just a few. Led by conservative blogger Erick Erickson, a pocket of Republicans are now trying to draft a third-party candidate to prevent Trump from taking the White House. Meanwhile, a small number of established members of the party have publicly supported the presumptive nominee. Below is a look at who has said far.

Not Boarding the Trump Train

Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House

The country’s top Republican and the party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee said on Thursday that he’s not ready to back Trump, signaling the mogul’s uphill battle in uniting the party in the next six months leading up to the general election.

“What a lot of Republicans want to see is that we have a standard bearer that bears our standards,” he told CNN Thursday. “We want somebody who takes these conservative principles, applies them to the problems and offers solutions to the country that a vast majority of Americans can vote for, that they want to be enthusiastic about.”

Trump responded with a snarky comment, saying, “I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan’s agenda.”

The two are expected to meet next week to discuss GOP principles.

Mitt Romney, Former Governor of Massachusetts and 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee

Arguably the loudest and one of the earliest opposing voices against Trump, Romney in March called him a “fraud” and “phony” in a speech ahead of Utah’s caucuses. At an awards gala in Washington Thursday night, the former Massachusetts governor and ex–GOP nominee said he has no intention of supporting the mogul and won’t attend the party’s summer convention.

“I happen to think that the person who is leading the nation has an enormous and disproportionate impact on the course of the world, so I am dismayed at where we are now. I wish we had better choices, and I keep hoping that somehow things will get better, and I just don’t see an easy answer from where we are,” he said.

Former President George H. W. Bush

The 41st president briefly entered this year’s election cycle to support the dismal campaign of his son, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Now, Bush Sr. has said he won’t attend the summer convention. “At age 91, President Bush is retired from politics,” spokesman Jim McGrath told The Texas Tribune Wednesday. “He came out of retirement to do a few things for Jeb, but those were the exceptions that proved the rule.”

Former President George W. Bush

Like his dad, the 43rd president “does not plan to participate in or comment on the presidential campaign,” including not attending the national convention, said his personal aide, Freddy Ford, according to the Tribune.

Jeb Bush, Former Florida Governor and Former 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate

In a Facebook post Friday afternoon, Bush congratulated Trump on his victories, acknowledging the businessman tapped into Americans’ widespread feelings of anger and frustration. “Trump has not demonstrated that temperament or strength of character,” he said. “He has not displayed a respect for the Constitution. And, he is not a consistent conservative. These are all reasons why I cannot support his candidacy.”

Once a rising GOP star, early in the race Bush was considered the party’s front-runner. But Trump repeatedly laid into him during debates and on the campaign trail, famously calling him “low energy.” With anemic poll numbers, Bush dropped out of the race in February.

Lindsey Graham, U.S. Senator From South Carolina and Former 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate

Graham has been vehemently anti-Trump for months now, and the South Carolina senator sent a series of tweets Friday reaffirming this, expressing his discontent for both Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, her party’s likely nominee. Graham said it’s difficult to believe that Trump could be a presidential choice in a country as large as the United States. He also vowed not to attend his party’s convention.

“I also cannot in good conscience support Donald Trump because I do not believe he is a reliable Republican conservative, do not believe he is a reliable GOP conservative nor has he displayed the judgment and temperament to serve as commander-in-chief,” he said. “I will enthusiastically support Republicans for other offices in South Carolina and throughout the country.”

John McCain, U.S. Senator From Arizona and 2008 Republican Presidential Nominee

Although he disagrees with Trump’s views on immigration, the Arizona senator has told the media he will back the billionaire because the voters seemingly have chosen him as the party’s nominee.

“I want to emphasize, I have taken every election with the utmost seriousness. I take this one with the utmost seriousness,” he said, according to CNN. Earlier in his campaign, Trump said McCain, a former prisoner of war in North Vietnam, was considered a hero only because he was captured.

Still, McCain doesn’t plan to attend the RNC this summer, saying he must focus on his campaign for Senate re-election. His true thoughts seem to have been revealed in audio leaked to Politico and published Thursday in which McCain said he fears Trump could damage his hopes for re-election. Speaking on the recording with donors in April, the senator acknowledged the frustration among Hispanic voters, many of whom are anti-Trump because of his previous comments that Mexican immigrants are “rapists” and “criminals.” Hispanics comprise 30 percent of the vote in Arizona.

Ben Sasse, U.S. Senator From Nebraska

Sasse, who took office in 2015, first spoke out against the mogul in a February 28 Facebook post, saying he “can’t support Donald Trump.” This week, he again took to Facebook in a widely covered post to emphasize the country needs an “adult” leader.

“Although I’m one of the most conservative members of the Senate, I’m not interested in an ideological purity test, because even a genuine consensus candidate would almost certainly be more conservative than either of the two dishonest liberals now leading the two national parties,” he said.

Charlie Baker, Governor of Massachusetts

Massachusetts’ newly elected Republican governor congratulated Trump and acknowledged that he seemingly has clinched the party’s nomination “fair and square.” Still, he says he won’t vote for the mogul or attend the convention.

“Some of the things he said about women and about Muslims and about religious freedom, I just can’t support. At the same time, I do believe Secretary Clinton has a huge believability problem,” he said Wednesday. “This makes this a very difficult election, I don’t think just for me, but I think for a lot of people.”

All Aboard the Trump Train

Rick Perry, Former Governor of Texas and 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate

Perry, who was a candidate for president in 2012 and the first contender to drop out in the current election, once called Trump’s campaign “cancer on conservatism” that threatened to metastasize into a movement of mean-spirited politics. But lo and behold: The former governor now supports Trump and is even open to being his running mate.

“He is not a perfect man. But what I do believe is that he loves this country, and he will surround himself with capable, experienced people, and he will listen to them,” Perry told CNN. “He wasn’t my first choice, wasn’t my second choice, but he is the people’s choice.”

Dr. Ben Carson, Former 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate

The retired neurosurgeon, who for a moment in the fall pulled ahead of Trump in some polls, formally backed the front-runner in March. After the mogul’s win in Indiana Tuesday, Carson said he thinks Trump would consider a Democratic vice president (even though the candidate has said otherwise). He’s helping to lead Trump’s process in selecting a running mate.

“If there was a Democrat who strongly upheld the Constitution, believed in personal responsibility, a hand up rather than a hand out, fiscal responsibility, strong military. We’d be willing to talk to them. If you know of any such Democrats let me know,” he told MSNBC Friday morning. “But clearly you need people who are consistent with the views that the president has.”

In an interview with NewsmaxTV in March, Carson said Trump has promised him a role in his potential administration. He said the candidate “will surround himself with very good people.” When asked whether he would be one of those individuals, Carson said, “I will be doing things as well, yes...certainly in an advisory capacity.”

Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey and Former 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate

No, Christie isn’t being “held hostage” by his longtime friend, Trump. He even said so. The New Jersey governor also isn’t a “full-time surrogate” for the former reality TV star. Christie was one of Trump’s former 16 GOP presidential rivals, but like Carson, shortly after he ended his campaign, he endorsed Trump for the presidency. Widespread criticism followed from his constituents about spending too much time out of his home state campaigning for the candidate, and a group of six New Jersey newspapers called for his resignation in a joint editorial.

During a press conference Thursday, Christie vowed to reach out to Speaker Ryan and find out his specific concerns about Trump becoming president.

“Donald’s my friend. He’s been my friend for 14 years,” said Christie, whose name has been tossed around as a potential Trump vice presidential choice. “If he picks up the phone and calls and asks me to do something that I can do, to help his cause to be elected president, I’ll do it. But it has to be consistent with my responsibilities here.”

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