The great Republican exodus from Donald Trump continues as Sen. Susan Collins, the senior senator from Maine, joins a growing list of those in the GOP who will not back the presidential nominee.
“Donald Trump does not reflect historical Republican values nor the inclusive approach to governing that is critical to healing the divisions in our country,” said Collins. “My conclusion about Mr. Trump’s unsuitability for office is based on his disregard for the precept of treating others with respect, an idea that should transcend politics. Instead, he opts to mock the vulnerable and inflame prejudices by attacking ethnic and religious minorities.”
Collins refusing to support Trump is not an isolated case. A former political director for President Ronald Reagan, Frank Lavin, said Monday he is backing Hillary Clinton.
“It might not be entirely clear that Hillary Clinton deserves to win the presidency, but it is thunderingly clear that Donald Trump deserves to lose,” said Lavin who worked as Reagan’s political director in the 1980’s. “From this premise, I will do something that I have not done in 40 years of voting: I will vote for the Democratic nominee for president. The depressing truth of the Republican nominee is that Donald Trump talks a great game but he is the emperor who wears no clothes.”
Former MGM CEO Harry Sloan, a Republican fundraising giant, today announced he could not support Trump.
“He does not embody the values that have made me a lifelong Republican,” said Sloan. “He is unprepared and temperamentally unfit to be our President. Most of my Republican friends feel the same way. As a businessman, a father, and a conservative it is clear to me that Hillary Clinton is the right choice in this election.”
Wadi Gaitan, the mouthpiece of the Florida Republican Party, has quit due to Trump.
“I’m thankful for my almost two years with the Florida GOP, however, moving on gives me a great, new opportunity to continue promoting free market solutions while avoiding efforts that support Donald Trump,” said Gaitan who is Latino.
Also in Florida, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says she will not vote for Trump and instead, “I think I’ll write in the name Jeb Bush.”
Former commerce secretary Carlos Gutierrez; former housing and urban development secretary Carla Hills; former congresswoman Connie Morella; former congressman Chris Shays; and former director of national intelligence John Negroponte all endorsed Clinton on Wednesday.
The former chief policy director for Republicans in the House, Evan McMullin, has launched an independent, conservative bid for president because of Trump.
McMullin, a former CIA operations officer, tweeted last month, “Authoritarians like Donald Trump use promises of law & order to justify infringing on civil rights as they consolidate control by force.”
Former New Hampshire Sen. Gordon Humphrey on Monday called Trump a “defective nominee” who is “deranged” and whose “psyche is sick.”
“It would be the height of irresponsibility to give him the powers of the presidency,” said Humphrey. “It would be an act of recklessness to give him the office of commander in chief. This needs to be said, and there’s a growing census in agreement that Donald Trump is mentally unfit to be president of the United States. And the RNC on that account, this week or next, should revoke the nomination and choose a candidate who is experienced, but at the same time, of mental soundness.”
Another former top aide of President George W. Bush, Lezlee Westine, announced her support of Hillary Clinton on Monday.
“Our nation faces a unique set of challenges that require steady and experienced leadership,” said Westine. “That is why today I am personally supporting Hillary Clinton. She has the expertise and commitment to American values to grow the economy, create jobs and protect America at home and abroad.”
Former Michigan Gov. William Milliken suggested Monday a vote for Trump would be a choice to “embark on a path that has doomed other governments and nations throughout history.”
“Because I feel so strongly about our nation’s future, I will be joining the growing list of former and present government officials in casting my vote for Hillary Clinton for president in 2016,” said Milliken.
Just yesterday 50 GOP national security experts, including former secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and former C.I.A. director Michael Hayden, signed a statement of opposition to Trump.
“He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood,” the letter said. “He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be president and commander-in-chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”
William D. Ruckelshaus, the EPA administrator during the Nixon and Reagan administrations, and William Reilly, the EPA administrator during the Bush administration, both endorsed Hillary Clinton today.
“Republicans have a long history of support for the environment dating back to Theodore Roosevelt,” they said in a statement. “Donald Trump has shown a profound ignorance of science and of the public health issues embodied in our environmental laws. He hasn’t a clue about Republicans’ historic contributions to science-driven environmental policy.”
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker says about Trump, “I’m not going to vote for him in November,” adding the things Trump has said about “women and Muslims and religious freedom, I just can’t support.”
Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an up-and-comer in the GOP, has also announced he cannot vote for Trump in November.
“Donald Trump is beginning to cross a lot of red lines of the unforgivable in politics,” said Kinzinger. “I’m not going to support Hillary, but in America we have the right to skip somebody. That’s what it’s looking like for me today. I don’t see how I get to Donald Trump anymore.”
Former Rep. Vin Weber, a key leader in the Newt Gingrich revolution that brought Republicans back into congressional power in 1994, calls Trump’s nomination “a mistake of historic proportions.”
“I won’t vote for Trump,” said Weber, who represented Minnesota in the House for a dozen years. “I can’t imagine I’d remain a Republican if he becomes president. I think markets would collapse.”
In California, Meg Whitman, a top GOP financial supporter, endorsed Hillary Clinton last week.
“As a proud Republican, casting my vote for President has usually been a simple matter,” said Whitman. “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.”
In Ohio, a state considered a must-win for Trump, the former popular Attorney General Betty Montgomery announced she will not vote for Trump.
“I’m embarrassed, I’m ashamed,” said Montgomery. “I don’t see him representing America and American values. I’m not abandoning my party, but at some point the safety and security of your country and its place in the world is more important than party.”
The state auditor in Ohio Dave Yost, a likely candidate for attorney general in 2018, is not backing the GOP nominee.
“A lifelong conservative, I will not support Donald Trump,” said Yost. “A man who believes in nothing will stop at nothing.”
Ohio Governor John Kasich has not endorsed the GOP nominee and skipped the convention in Cleveland last month. Kasich says he does not believe Trump can win the Buckeye State.
“He’s going to win parts of Ohio where people are really hurting,” said Kasich. “But I still think it’s difficult, if you are dividing, to be able to win in Ohio. I think it’s really, really difficult.”
Ohio is viewed as critical to Trump’s chances to winning 270 electoral votes. No Republican in history has won the White House without carrying it.
Sally Bradshaw, a longtime aide to Jeb Bush, and Maria Comella, a former top aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have also recently renounced Trump’s candidacy.
Peter Wehner, a former speechwriter for presidents Reagan and both Bush’s, says the thought of a Trump presidency is “chilling.”
“Mr. Trump’s virulent combination of ignorance, emotional instability, demagogy, solipsism and vindictiveness would do more than result in a failed presidency; it could very well lead to national catastrophe,” said Wehner. “The prospect of Donald Trump as commander in chief should send a chill down the spine of every American.”
Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, the EPA director during the Bush administration, also plans to vote for Hillary Clinton.
“You’ll see a lot of Republicans do that,” said Whitman. “We don’t want to, but I know I won’t vote for Trump.”
Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, who was also America’s Homeland Security Director, says 2016 will be the first time in his life he hasn’t voted for the Republican presidential nominee.
“With a bumper sticker approach to policy, Donald Trump’s bombastic tone reflects the traits of a bully, not an American president and statesman,” said Ridge. “If he cannot unite Republicans, how can he unite America? I simply cannot endorse him.”
Former Senator Larry Pressler endorsed Clinton after the Orlando shooting.
“I can’t believe I’m endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, but I am,” said Pressler. “This morning, I woke up and told my wife, ‘Did I really do that?’ But I did.”
Rep. Richard Hanna, a Republican from Trump’s home state of New York, announced he’ll vote for Hillary Clinton, becoming the first sitting GOP member of congress to cross party lines.
“I never expect to agree with whoever is president, but at a minimum the president needs to consistently display those qualities I have preached to my two children: kindness, honesty, dignity, compassion and respect,” said Hanna. “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. I trust she can lead.”
Hanna is not alone. Longtime GOP national security adviser Brent Scowcroft endorsed Clinton too.
“I believe Hillary Clinton has the wisdom and experience to lead our country at this critical time,” said Scowcroft. “She brings deep expertise in international affairs, and a sophisticated understanding of the world, essential for the Commander-in-Chief.”
Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state under George W. Bush, and the assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan, has endorsed Clinton.
George W. Bush’s former Treasury Security, Hank Paulson, also backs the Democratic nominee.
“The GOP, in putting Trump at the top of the ticket, is endorsing a brand of populism rooted in ignorance, prejudice, fear and isolationism,” said Paulson. “This troubles me deeply as a Republican, but it troubles me even more as an American. Enough is enough. It’s time to put country before party and say it together: Never Trump.”
The former Republican mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, has questioned Trump’s sanity and called him a con man.
“Trump says he wants to run the nation like he’s run his business,” said Bloomberg. “God help us. I’m a New Yorker, and I know a con when I see one. Truth be told, the richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy.”
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan says he’ll “write someone in” besides Trump in November.
Marc Raciot, the popular former two-term governor of Montana and chairman of the Republican National Committee during the George W. Bush presidency, said, “Americans can choose better than Trump.”
Stuart Stevens, the chief strategist for Mitt Romney in 2012, says, “Donald Trump is uniquely unqualified to be president. If you have a friend who is about to marry a guy who is 70 years old and he promises he will change, what would your advice be?” “No one changes at 70.”
Jim Cicconi, senior executive vice president at AT&T, who also served in both the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, endorsed Clinton last week saying, “it is vital to put our country’s well being ahead of party.”
Michael Murphy, a longtime Republican strategist says Trump “fails my commander-in-chief test. I think he is a stunning ignoramus on foreign policy issues and national security. The guy has a chimpanzee-level understanding of national security policy.”
Kori Schake, a conservative national security official under Bush, endorsed Clinton saying, “What I think is more likely than a reconciliation with Trump by conservative foreign policy and defense policy experts is a slow, agonizing reconciliation that Hillary Clinton is a safer pair of hands.”
Matt Higgins, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s press secretary, says his 9-year-old son helped him make the decision to back Clinton. “Since you’re a Republican, do they make you vote for the Republican?” his son asked after Trump’s acceptance speech. Higgins, a lifelong Republican, is now fundraising for the Democratic nominee.
Mark Salter, a former strategist for John McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee, also backs Clinton: “Trump is an awful human being. He appeals to a sliver of the country that mystifies me.”
Doug Elmets, a former Reagan administration staffer and GOP communications consultant, says he has never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate, but this year he is heading “Republicans for Hillary.”
“I don’t believe Donald Trump is a Republican,” said Elmets. “I think Donald Trump is a brand. And he’s managed to hoodwink America into believing he will lead this country through the fire. I think he will thrust us into the fire.”
Kevin Madden, a key strategist and national press spokesman for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2012, says he’ll put character ahead of party in this election.
“For many Republicans, Trump is more than just a political choice,” said Madden. “It’s a litmus test for character. I’m prepared to write somebody in so that I have a clear conscience.”
John Weaver, chief strategist for John Kasich’s 2016 campaign, says he will not vote for Trump and “will take the America of Khizr Khan and his fallen son over Trump’s distorted and selfish version every day of the week.”
Former Rep. Mel Martinez, who is also a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, says, “I would not vote for Trump, clearly. If there is any, any, any other choice, a living, breathing person with a pulse, I would be there.”
Eliot Cohen, who held various positions in the Bush administration, says his “short list” on why he doesn’t support Trump include, “demagoguery, torture, bigotry, misogyny, isolationism, violence. Not the Party of Lincoln and not me.”
Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse says Republicans should write-in another name on the ballot.
“Why shouldn’t America draft an honest leader who will focus on 70-percent solutions for the next four years?” said Sasse. “You know…an adult?”
Illinois’s Mark Kirk, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, and Texas’s Ted Cruz also do not support Trump.
Rep. Scott Rigell, of battleground Virginia, says he is voting for Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson instead of the GOP nominee.
“Donald Trump is a bully, unworthy of our nomination,” said Rigell. “My love for our country eclipses my loyalty to our party, and to live with a clear conscience I will not support a nominee so lacking in the judgment, temperament and character needed to be our nation’s commander-in-chief.”
Former Rep. J.C. Watts says he’ll write-in a candidate before voting for Trump. “It’s going to be a tremendous setback for the party if he wins,” he said.
Mike Treiser, a former staffer on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, wrote on Facebook: “In the face of bigotry, hatred, violence, and small-mindedness, this time, I’m with her.”
Conservative columnist George Will said last month a Clinton term is less dangerous for the nation than Trump.
The Harvard Republican Club announced it would not back Trump, and called for Republican leaders to withdraw their support of the candidate they called a “threat to the survival of the Republic.”
“His authoritarian tendencies and flirtations with fascism are unparalleled in the history of our democracy,” the Republican Club said in a statement. “He hopes to divide us by race, by class, and by religion, instilling enough fear and anxiety to propel himself to the White House.”
While not endorsing Clinton, former presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, along with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, have announced they will not vote for Trump.
Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee, also has said he will not back Trump.
“I don’t want to see trickle-down racism,” said Romney. “I don’t want to see a president of the United States saying things which change the character of the generations of Americans that are following. Presidents have an impact on the nature of our nation, and trickle-down racism, trickle-down bigotry, trickle-down misogyny, all these things are extraordinarily dangerous to the heart and character of America.”