Where Republicans Stand on Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet
Who has jumped on the bandwagon? Who’s sticking with #NeverTrump? And who hasn’t made up their mind yet? A continually updated inventory
How do you solve a problem like The Donald? For Republicans and conservatives, the time for hoping Trump would simply burn himself out, collapse, and go away is over. With the exits of Ted Cruz and John Kasich, the entertainer is now the presumptive GOP nominee.
That poses a dilemma for the Republican official or conservative opinionmaker who doesn’t like Trump, disagrees with his policies, and/or thinks he will harm GOP and the conservative movement. Swallow hard and back Trump? Try to coalesce around a third-party candidate? Sit out the election and risk allowing Hillary Clinton to win the presidency, or even back her rather than risk letting Trump win?
As the chaotic and failed attempts to stop Trump over the 10 months have shown, there’s no obviously right choice. But which choice are people making? Here’s a list of some major figures and where they stand on Trump—right now. We’ll keep it updated as other important people take stances, or as these ones change their views about Trump.
George W. Bush: ABSTAINThe former president “does not plan to participate in or comment on the presidential campaign,” an aide told the Texas Tribune. (May 4, 2016)
George H.W. Bush: ABSTAIN“At age 91, President Bush is retired from politics. He came out of retirement to do a few things for Jeb, but those were the exceptions that proved the rule,” an aide told the Texas Tribune. (May 4, 2016)
Mitt Romney: ABSTAINThe party’s 2012 nominee—and one of Trump’s staunchest critics during the primary—has not made his vote known, but he told The Washington Post he would skip the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, and said at a D.C. dinner that he won’t be supporting Trump. (May 5, 2016)
Bob Dole: UNDECIDEDThe former Senate majority leader and 1996 GOP presidential nominee will be the only living GOP nominee to attend the RNC. He hasn’t committed to backing Trump but said in January that Trump would be preferable to Cruz. (May 5, 2016)
John Boehner: YEAThe former speaker, who says he and Trump are “texting buddies,” told an audience at Stanford University that he’d back Trump in the general election. (April 28, 2016)
Tom DeLay: UNDECIDEDThe former House majority leader hasn’t spoken out since Trump’s ascension, but was highly critical of him during the primary: “We have got to stop Trump. Whatever it takes without cheating or violating the rules of the Republican primaries,” he told Newsmax.
Dick Cheney: UNDECIDEDThe former vice president hasn’t spoken out since Trump’s ascension, but he blasted him during the primary over his stance on 9/11, and said he “sounds like a liberal Democrat.”
Newt Gingrich: YEAThe former speaker of the House did not formally endorse Trump during the primary, but he has repeatedly praised the mogul and his vision, and is said to be a contender for a position in a Trump administration.
Jeb Bush: UNDECIDEDThe former Florida governor and presidential candidate came to detest Trump during the campaign. Bush endorsed Ted Cruz before his exit. He hasn’t said clearly whether he’ll back Trump now, but said in April that he would not attend the Republican National Convention.
Reince Priebus: YEAAs chair of the Republican National Committee, Priebus doesn't really have a choice, though that doesn’t mean he won’t pour Baileys in his cereal over it. (May 4, 2016)
Paul Ryan: UNDECIDEDThe House speaker has said in the past he intended to support the Republican nominee, but he now says he’s not prepared to back Trump—yet. “To be perfectly candid with you, I’m just not ready to that at this point,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “I’m not there. I hope to, and I want to.” He said the party needs “a standard-bearer that bears our standards.” (May 5, 2016)
Mitch McConnell: YEAThe Senate majority leader issued a statement tepidly backing Trump. “I have committed to supporting the nominee chosen by Republican voters, and Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee is now on the verge of clinching that nomination,” he said. (May 4, 2016)
Ted Cruz: UNDECIDEDIn dropping out of the Republican race after losing to Trump, the Texas senator did not make any indication whether he was willing to back his rival. (May 3, 2016)
Jeff Sessions: YEAThe Alabama senator was Trump’s first endorser from the Senate, and he has been a high-profile backer and adviser to Trump’s campaign.
Susan Collins: UNDECIDEDThe Maine senator and moderate said, “I have always supported the Republican nominee for president, and I suspect I would do so this year, but I do want see what Donald Trump does from here on out.” To win her vote, “He’s going to have stop with gratuitous personal insults,” she said, amusingly. (May 4, 2016)
John McCain: YEAThe Arizona senator and 2008 GOP presidential nominee, who is in a tight reelection battle, says publicly that he’ll back the nominee. In a private recordingobtained by Politico, however, he frets that Trump endangers his reelection effort, while his former top aide Mark Salter is backing Clinton. (May 5, 2016)
Kelly Ayotte: YEAThe New Hampshire senator, who is also in a tight reelection battle, says she plans to “support” but not “endorse” Trump, whatever that means. (May 5, 2016)
Lindsey Graham: NAYThe South Carolina senator and former presidential candidate was one of Trump’s most prominent critics during the primary, even endorsing Cruz even though he’d previously likened the choice between him and Trump to a choice between poisoning and being shot. The day Trump won Indiana, Graham tweeted:
If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed.......and we will deserve it.
Ben Sasse: NAYThe Nebraska freshman senator was another anti-Trump ringleader, and has been suggested as a third-party candidate. In a long Facebook post, he explained why he’s still not backing Trump. (May 4, 2016)
Marco Rubio: YEAThe Florida senator and former presidential candidate has not spoken about the race since Trump became the presumptive nominee, but in late April he said that he’d support Trump in order to beat Hillary Clinton. (April 21, 2016)
Rob Portman: YEAThe Ohio senator, who’s locked in a tough reelection fight, has previously saidhe’d back the Republican nominee. Most recently, he said that having Trump on the ticket would be positive for his own hopes. (May 5, 2016)
Richard Burr: YEAThe North Carolinian, who also faces a tough reelection, supports Trump. (May 4, 2016)
Roy Blunt: YEAThe Missourian, who is up for reelection, says he will support the nominee. (May, 5, 2016)
Ron Johnson: YEAThe Wisconsin senator, who is battling predecessor Russ Feingold, is one of the most precarious Republicans this year. He tepidly backed Trump. “As Ron has repeatedly said for months, he intends to support the Republican nominee, but he's focused on the concerns of Wisconsinites—not national political winds,” a spokesman told Roll Call. (May 5, 2016)
Pat Toomey: YEAThe Pennsylvania senator, another endangered incumbent, said: “It certainly looks like Donald Trump is on his way to the nomination .… Donald Trump was not my first choice. He wasn’t my second choice or third or fourth choice. I have lots have differences with Donald Trump and lots of problems with him but I am absolutely in the ‘never Hillary Clinton’ camp.” (May 4, 2016)
Mark Kirk: YEAThe Illinois senator, one of this year’s most endangered incumbents, has previously said he’d back Trump if nominated.
Chris Christie: YEAThe New Jersey governor and former presidential candidate was Trump’s first major establishment endorser, and has been a staunch ally.
Paul LePage: YEAMaine’s sometimes-racist governor had backed Christie, but he quickly endorsedTrump after Christie did.
John Kasich: UNDECIDEDThe Ohio governor and final Republican challenger to leave the race has not said whether he’ll back Trump. In his comments leaving the race, Kasich pointedly did not mention Trump or indicate his leaning. (May 4, 2016)
Nikki Haley: YEAThe governor of South Carolina tangled with Trump ahead of that state’s primary, and was elegantly withering toward him at the time. But she says she will back him. “I have great respect for the will of the people, and as I have always said, I will support the Republican nominee for president,” she said. (May 4, 2016)
Brian Sandoval: YEAThe Nevada governor, a moderate conservative, was no fan of Trump but will back him. “I plan to vote for the presumptive nominee although it is no secret that we do not agree on every issue. Elections are about making choices and the Democratic nominee is simply not an option,” he wrote on Facebook. (May 5, 2016)
(see article for more)