TPM’s Guide To GOPers Hopping Off The Trump Train

Carolyn Kaster/AP

UPDATED: Monday, August 15, 2016, 1:37 PM ET

Donald Trump hasn’t exactly made it easy for his fellow Republicans to wholeheartedly support him. A flood of prominent GOPers, from current elected officeholders to former national security and foreign policy officials, have either withdrawn support for the GOP nominee or voiced strident opposition to his comments in recent weeks.

It can be tough to keep track, so we’ve compiled a handy guide to keep it all straight. There are “the arch-weasels,” GOP leaders who still hold on to their support or endorsements of Trump despite openly disagreeing with his comments and frequently criticizing him. These Republicans are determined to support the nominee no matter what, even if they don’t really like anything about him.

GOPers who are holdouts either have not made clear who they will vote for, will vote for a third-party candidate or have made it crystal clear they’re not supporting the party’s nominee. One holdout, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), appears to be the only Republican to rescind an earlier endorsement of Trump.

Finally, there are a number of Republicans who now appear to be “Ready For Hillary” after publicly pledging support for Hillary Clinton.

The arch-weasels

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told NY1 that he has told Trump to tone it down:

What I’ve said to him both publicly and privately: ‘You’re a great entertainer. You turn on audiences. You’re good before a crowd. You have a lot of Twitter followers. That worked fine for you in the primaries. But now that you are in the general, people are looking for a level of seriousness that is typically conveyed by having a prepared text and Teleprompter and staying on message.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been a frequent critic of Trump, but has not rescinded his endorsement:

As you know, when I first talked about this, when I did support Donald, I said at that time, and ever since then, if I see a situation where our conservative principles are being distorted, I’m going to stand up for those conservative principles. If I see and hear things that I think are wrong, I’m not going to sit by and say nothing. Because I think I have a duty as a Republican leader to defend Republican principles and our party’s brand if I think they’re being distorted.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said he will support Trump, but has been vocal in his disdain:

(He’s) a delusional narcissist and an orange-faced windbag.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said he will support Trump, but in the same breath told CNN he doesn’t trust him:

He’s the presumptive nominee at this point but he’d be best served by having someone, not just, by the way, a vice presidential nominee, but active surrogates who agree with him on his issues. My differences with Donald, both my reservations about his campaign and my policy differences with him are well-documented.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) has said she supports the GOP nominee, but slammed Trump in a statement when he was engaged in a war of words with The Khan family:

I am appalled that Donald Trump would disparage them and that he had the gall to compare his own sacrifices to those of a Gold Star family.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was rumored to be a Trump VP finalist, but that does not mean he’s always been a fan of Trump:

Trump is still behaving like as though it was the primaries and there were 17 candidates. He has not made the transition to being the potential president of the United States, which is a much tougher league.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has had a tough relationship with Trump. Though he said he will support him, he’s taken issue with Trump’s attitude toward veterans:

It is time for Donald Trump to set the example for our country and the future of the Republican Party. While our Party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) stands by her support of Trump despite criticizing him in the past:

If I’ve got to deal with these two candidates, Trump is the better candidate of the two.

The holdouts


Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
told ‘Face The Nation” he is still not ready to back Trump, even after meeting with his running mate:

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to see that (Trump) is going to make the changes that he needs.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) changed his position from supporting the GOP nominee to tweeting that he does not support Trump:

Given my military experience, Donald Trump does not have the temperament to command our military or our nuclear arsenal.

Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox (R) told the St. Louis Tribune that he cannot support Trump unless he radically changes his rhetoric and campaigning style. He said he may vote for third-party candidate Evan McMullins, Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, or a write-in candidate.

If there were some major changes to Trump, I think there’s a way many of us could support him, but he hasn’t shown any inclination toward those changes or doing things differently, so I think it’s a long shot that he will change.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said he won’t support Trump, according to The Washington Post.

No, I don’t plan to. I guess when I get behind the curtain I’ll have to figure it out. Maybe write someone in. I’m not sure.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has actively campaigned against Trump, especially during Trump’s attacks against a federal judge, telling The New York Times it was un-American:

“This is the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy,” 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.”

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) has been a vocal critic of Trump from nearly the start of his campaign:

Why are these two the most unpopular candidates in the history of presidential polling? Because they are not honest. And everyone knows it. They do not embody the best of America.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) said she will not support Trump or Clinton in a press conference:

I will work with whomever is chosen by the American people to serve as president, because I deeply respect the American constitutional system. In this election, I do not support either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) has been against Trump from the beginning of his candidacy, confirming to The Wall Street Journal that he will not support Trump as the GOP nominee:

Not that political views mean anything in this year, but because I believe in constitutionally limited government, his candidacy is one I certainly can’t support.

Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) won’t support Trump or Clinton. Instead, he told The New York Times that he’ll support Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson:

When their own conscience is seared by some statement that Trump has made, I have encouraged them to be direct and also, in a timely manner, repudiate what he said. People will respect it if you have a reason and you put it out there.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) said he won’t support Trump “under any circumstances,” according to The Naples Daily News.

Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL) told John Howell he will write in a candidate instead of voting for Trump:

We’re working tirelessly each and every day so listen, that’s gonna be up to whomever the people want to support and send to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, I’ll work with whomever they put there, but I will tell you, from my own stance, Donald Trump is not the guy, I will not support him.

Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI) told C-SPAN that he will not support Trump:

My issues with Donald Trump have less to do with policy. I certainly have policy disagreements with him. But, I believe that you can always navigate policy disagreements because you will never have 100 percent agreement with everybody. It has more to do with how he has managed his campaign, the language and tone, the insulting nature of his campaign.

Gov. Charlie Baker (R-MA) said he won’t be voting for Trump because of his comments about minority groups:

The things he said about women and Muslims and religious freedom, I just can’t support. At the same time, I do believe Secretary Clinton has a huge believability problem.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) gave a speech at the Republican Nationals Convention that many took to be a slam of Trump and has declined to endorse him:

Don’t stay home in November. Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.

Fifty Republican national security experts, including former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden, former Homeland Security Secretaries Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, former deputy secretaries of state Robert Zoellick and John D. Negroponte, and former undersecretary of defense Dov Zakheim penned a letter saying Trump was too dangerous to be president:

From a foreign policy perspective, Donald Trump is not qualified to be President and Commander-in-Chief. Indeed, we are convinced that he would be a dangerous President and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) penned an op-ed in The Washington Post explaining why she won’t support Trump:

I will not be voting for Donald Trump for president. This is not a decision I make lightly, for I am a lifelong Republican. But Donald Trump does not reflect historical Republican values nor the inclusive approach to governing that is critical to healing the divisions in our country.

Ready for Hillary

Former Michigan Gov. William Milliken (R) told The Detroit Free Press he will vote for Hillary Clinton because Trump does not embody GOP ideals:

We face a critically important choice in this year’s presidential election that will define whether we maintain our commitment to those ideals or embark on a path that has doomed other governments and nations throughout history. I am saddened and dismayed that the Republican Party this year has nominated a candidate who has repeatedly demonstrated that he does not embrace those ideals.

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) told Syracuse.com that he is voting for Clinton, calling Trump a “national embarrassment”:

While I disagree with her on many issues, I will vote for Mrs. Clinton. I will be hopeful and resolute in my belief that being a good American who loves his country is far more important than parties or winning and losing.

Hank Paulson, a former Treasury secretary in George W. Bush’s administration, said he will vote for Clinton in an op-ed in The Washington Post:

I’ll be voting for Hillary Clinton with the hope that she can bring Americans together to do the things necessary to strengthen our economy, our environment and our place in the world. To my Republican friends: I know I’m not alone.

Former Sen. Larry Pressler (R-SD) endorsed Clinton following the Orlando nightclub shooting and told The Hill that gun control was a big part of it:

We need to go the route of more gun control as a result of Orlando and all the other shootings that have occurred. But it’s almost as though Republicans are saying gun control shouldn’t be part of the conversation at all.

Major GOP Donor Meg Whitman endorsed Clinton in a LinkedIn Post:

As a proud Republican, casting my vote for President has usually been a simple matter. This year is different. To vote Republican out of party loyalty alone would be to endorse a candidacy that I believe has exploited anger, grievance, xenophobia and racial division. Donald Trump’s demagoguery has undermined the fabric of our national character.

Former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson told WCCO that he’ll be voting for Clinton:

You come into Congress, not just with a partisan plan, but with a bipartisan plan and tremendous buy-in, if you will, from the American people. I think (Clinton) has the capacity to do that.

Maria Comella, the longtime communications director for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), endorsed Clinton, telling CNN that silence “isn’t an option”:

Instead of trying anything remotely like unifying the country, we have a nominee who would rather pick fights because he views it as positive news coverage. It may make him media savvy, but it doesn’t make him qualified or ready to be president.

Sally Bradshaw, Jeb Bush’s top advisor, told CNN she will vote for Clinton “if Florida is close”:

This is a time when country has to take priority over political parties. Donald Trump cannot be elected president.

Robert Tuttle, a former aide to Ronald Reagan and an ambassador to the United Kingdon during George W. Bush’s administration, said in a statement he would vote for Clinton:

The Republican nominee for President has no government experience and has done nothing in his career to demonstrate that he is competent to be President. He has made repeated misstatements and inaccurate statements. He has insulted minorities, women, a war hero and Gold Star parents. He is unqualified and unfit to be President. “I have never voted for a Democrat but I will vote for Secretary Clinton.”

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