ON THE FENCE
Top Republicans Who Won’t Vote for Donald Trump—but Haven’t Endorsed Hillary Clinton Yet Either
They’ll do anything to avoid voting for the Republican Party’s nominee—anything but publicly endorse the other side.
With less than 100 days until the general election, some #NeverTrump Republicans are stuck in a political limbo: They won’t support Trump, but they also won’t endorse Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Here’s a list of the top Republicans who are planning to cast a write-in vote, vote for a third-party candidate, or abstain—anything to avoid voting for either major party’s presidential nominee.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said on Aug. 15 that he was not currently supporting Trump. “I’m not supporting him at this time, and I’ll be watching to see what he has to say and do,” Sandoval told a local Fox News affiliate. Sandoval’s comment signals a reversal, since in May he wrote on Facebook that he planned to vote for Trump.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins refused to back Trump in an op-ed for The Washington Post. Collins added that she does not support Clinton, writing, “As we have seen with the dissatisfaction with both major-party nominees—neither of whom I support—these passions are real and the public will demand action.”
Fifty senior Republican national security officials signed an open letter opposing Trump, although the letter notes that “many” of the signatories “have doubts about Hillary Clinton.” Signatories include Michael V. Hayden, a former director of the CIA and NSA; Robert B. Zoellick, a former deputy secretary of state and later president of the World Bank; and Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, both former secretaries of Homeland Security.
GOP consultant Rick Wilson warned that Trump “would be far worse” than Clinton as president. “I want to be clear here,” Wilson added in an op-ed. “As a principled conservative, I loathe the high likelihood that Hillary Clinton will—barring a bear attack or some other unforeseen externality—win this election.”
Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA), who is retiring from Congress at the end of his term, declared himself #NeverTrump in March. Rigell openly endorsed Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson in early August.
The Harvard Republicans Club announced that the group will not endorse the GOP presidential nominee for the first time in 128 years. The club’s statement did not state if its members planned to support another candidate.
Former Minnesota Congressman Vin Weber told CNBC, “I won’t vote for Trump.” Weber, who played a key role in helping Newt Gingrich put House Republicans in the majority, added he wasn’t sure if he would support Clinton.
Rep. Charlie Dent told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “I’m not planning to vote for either of the two major-party nominees and I’m not ready to say I’m going to vote for the libertarians either.” Dent is a moderate Republican representing a key district in the battleground state Pennsylvania.
Former RNC chairman Marc Racicot disavowed Trump in a Washington Post op-ed published July 1. “I don’t know what I’m going to do,” the former governor of Montana later told Bloomberg. “But I do know that I’m not going to be casting a ballot for the presently existing Republican nominee.”
Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk pledged to cast a write-in vote, possibly for former CIA director David Petraeus or former Secretary of State Colin Powell. “I do not support Hillary Clinton and I told the public that I did not support Donald Trump either,” Kirk told a Chicago radio station. “I think he’s too bigoted and racist for the Land of Lincoln.”
Mitt Romney was one of Trump’s harshest critics during the primaries. In May, the former Republican presidential nominee confirmed to The Wall Street Journal that he would support neither Trump nor Clinton. “Hopefully, I will find a name I can support,” Romney said. “If not, I will write in a name.”
Michael Vlock, a Connecticut investor who has given nearly $5 million to Republicans since 2014, refused to back Trump. Vlock told The New York Times that he was still considering whether to back Clinton.
Jeb Bush, former Florida governor and presidential candidate, wrote in an open letter posted on Facebook: “In November, I will not vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, but I will support principled conservatives at the state and federal levels.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham said in a pair of tweets, “I cannot in good conscience support Donald Trump because I do not believe he is a reliable Republican conservative nor has he displayed the judgment and temperament to serve as Commander in Chief.” The South Carolina senator has also said he won’t support any independent or third-party candidates.
Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado (a Republican, although the Miami mayoral post is nonpartisan) said, “I’m not going to vote for one or the other,” referring to Trump and Clinton.
Former Congressman Bob Inglis told MSNBC that he will “under no circumstances” vote for Trump. When asked whom he plans to support, the former South Carolina lawmaker replied, “I don’t know yet. It’s really difficult.”
Florida’s most senior member of Congress, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, announced in May that she does not support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. “I think I’ll write in the name Jeb Bush,” Ros-Lehtinen told the Miami Herald in August. “A candidate should espouse optimism.”
Rep. Bob Dold told a local Chicago radio station that he is opposed to Trump. “I want to make that I’m clear about this, I’m not going to support Hillary Clinton either,” Dold added. “I would write someone in.” The Chicago-area congressman is in a highly competitive re-election race against former Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said “it’s disappointing” that he does not feel confident in either major party’s presidential candidate. “The things he said about women and Muslims and religious freedom, I just can’t support,” Baker said of Trump. “At the same time, I do believe Secretary Clinton has a huge believability problem.”
Eliot A. Cohen, who served in the George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations, called for a third-party candidate in an op-ed for The Washington Post. “To vote for Clinton is to sacrifice standards and endorse policies and conduct no conservative should; not to vote at all is an escape, not a civic deed,” wrote Cohen, who also signed an open letter opposing Trump due to the mogul’s foreign policy proposals.
Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo—also in a close re-election race—was an early critic of Trump and has said he might reluctantly vote for Clinton. “What I’ve said publicly over and over again to the media is I will not support Mr. Trump under any circumstances,” Curbelo told CBS Miami. “That does not mean automatically supporting Hillary Clinton.”
The first secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, wrote in an op-ed: “Every four years since my 18th birthday, I have pulled the lever in support of the Republican nominee for President of the United States. That streak will end this November.” Ridge, also a former governor of Pennsylvania, added, “Similarly, I cannot support Hillary Clinton, a divisive and untrustworthy candidate who will advance and extend failed Obama policies that have greatly weakened our nation’s economy and security.”
Former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman wrote in an op-ed: “Who my choice may be if Donald Trump is the standard-bearer under the rules of the Republican Party, I do not know. I know it won’t be Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. And I know it will never be Donald Trump.”
Rep. Justin Amash has said that Trump “cares about power, he doesn’t really care about things like the Constitution, and I’m concerned that he could push us in a very dangerous direction.” The Michigan congressman first endorsed Rand Paul and later Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential primary, and has since floated the idea of casting a write-in vote.
Former Jeb Bush spokesman Tim Miller has regularly criticized Trump on social media, first using the hashtag #NeverTrump on Super Tuesday (March 1). Miller has worked with the anti-Trump PAC Our Principles, but told Politico in early August that he has yet to decide which down-ballot Republican candidates he will support.
Former RNC Chairman Mel Martinez told The Wall Street Journal that he would not vote for Trump. However, the former Florida senator did not clearly say who he plans to support. Martinez said he would not vote for Clinton—but he also said regarding Trump: “If there is any, any, any other choice, a living, breathing person with a pulse, I would be there.”
Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse wrote in an open letter posted on Facebook: “My current answer for who I would support in a hypothetical matchup between Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton is: Neither of them.” The first-term lawmaker added, “If Donald Trump ends up as the GOP nominee, conservatives will need to find a third option.”
Conservative radio host Glenn Beck has long shown his disgust at Trump’s presidential bid. Beck supported and campaigned with Ted Cruz during the primaries.
Wisconsin Rep. Reid Ribble—who is retiring at the end of his term—declared, “I wouldn’t support Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.”