It is interesting to note that today, conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt felt the need to write: Six reasons Trump is still better than Clinton. I’m not as interested in his actual list as I am in the fact that he felt the need to write it in the first place.
Barring some unforeseen circumstances – it is looking increasingly possible that Donald Trump will be the Republican Party’s nominee. Even though we’ve been working up to that over the last few months, it is still quite the statement about the current state of affairs in the GOP. It is also no news to anyone that there are some Republicans who are none too happy at the prospect. And a few of them are starting to make their intentions clear if/when that reality materializes.
Last week I noted an article by “former Republican” Robert Kagan that ended with this:
So what to do now? The Republicans’ creation will soon be let loose on the land, leaving to others the job the party failed to carry out. For this former Republican, and perhaps for others, the only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton. The party cannot be saved, but the country still can be.
Since then, a few of those others have started to speak out. For example, former Governor Christie Todd Whitman:
First, she says she’s planning to vote for Hillary Clinton if Trump gets the nod. She’s keeping her options open, in case we find out something new and horrible about Hillary. But that’s her plan now.
“You’ll see a lot of Republicans do that,” Whitman told me. “We don’t want to. But I know I won’t vote for Trump.”
That statement was prompted by Gov. Chris Christie’s endorsement of Donald Trump, as was this one from Meg Whitman:
“Chris Christie’s endorsement of Donald Trump is an astonishing display of political opportunism. Donald Trump is unfit to be president“, said the statement from Whitman, who is chief executive and president of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and chairman of HP Inc.
Obviously, Whitman didn’t say that she would vote for Clinton if Trump were the nominee. But like Sen. Ben Sasse, her choice might be to do so or sit this one out.
I’m as frustrated and saddened as you are about what’s happening to our country. But I cannot support Donald Trump.
Please understand: I’m not an establishment Republican, and I will never support Hillary Clinton. I’m a movement conservative who was elected over the objections of the GOP establishment. My current answer for who I would support in a hypothetical matchup between Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton is: Neither of them. I sincerely hope we select one of the other GOP candidates, but if Donald Trump ends up as the GOP nominee, conservatives will need to find a third option.
I am not suggesting that these people are speaking for a majority of the Republican Party right now. But there is a contingent that agrees – I know because I have talked to some of them. That is why Hewitt had to take the unprecedented step of defending the guy who is likely to be the Republican nominee…to Republicans.
Update: Phillip Rucker and Robert Costa note the same phenomenon. Here is another example:
“For many Republicans, Trump is more than just a political choice,” said Kevin Madden, a veteran operative who advised 2012 nominee Mitt Romney. “It’s a litmus test for character.”
Madden, like some of his peers, said he could never vote for Trump. If he is the nominee, Madden said, “I’m prepared to write somebody in so that I have a clear conscience.”