Former education secretary William Bennett is one of the few establishment Republicans, and noted conservatives, who has defended Donald Trump after he clinched the GOP nomination.
In April, he scolded conservatives who were reluctant to embrace a Trump candidacy complaining “the establishment Republicans have closed their minds.”
This summer, to address the “never-Trump” movement, he argued that conservatives who were not backing Trump, “suffer from a terrible case of moral superiority and put their own vanity and taste above the interest of the country.”
After the first debate two weeks ago, it was Bennett who argued, against the vast majority, that Trump had won because voters saw his “passion” while “fighting for what he believes in.”
But after a tape surfaced yesterday where Trump is heard speaking in vulgar and crude terms against women, Bennett told the Washington Post that he believes Trump’s chances of winning the election have ended.
“It’s over,” said a disappointed Bennett. “I hate to say it, but it’s over. It’s a shame, a crying shame, but he can’t win. He should step down.”
Bennett, who served as President Ronald Reagan’s education secretary and has informally advised Trump on policy, said that the Republican Party “has to make a coldhearted calculation because of what he’s done. It just can’t stand.”
The conservative magazine National Review, which does not back Trump, reminded Bennett of a quote he made during the Bill Clinton presidency:
“The President is the symbol of who the people of the United States are. He is the person who stands for us in the eyes of the world and the eyes of our children.”
Earlier in the day, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wrote on her Facebook page that Trump should not be president. Rice joined Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Sen. John McCain and dozens of other noted Republicans in announcing they would not be voting for Trump under any circumstance.