On Friday alone, two of the men who ran against Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination said they not only wouldn’t endorse him but that they wouldn’t even be voting for him in the general election.
Lindsey Graham went first, summing up his sentiments in two tweets:
“I also cannot in good conscience support Donald Trump because I do not believe he is a reliable Republican conservative….(4)
…..do not believe he is a reliable GOP conservative nor has he displayed the judgment and temperament to serve as Commander in Chief. (5)”
Jeb Bush followed – with a Facebook post in which he argued that Trump “has not demonstrated that temperament or strength of character. He has not displayed a respect for the Constitution. And, he is not a consistent conservative. These are all reasons why I cannot support his candidacy.”
Where do Bush and Graham fit in the ranks of the biggest Trump haters of this election? Below we’ve ranked the top 10 Trump detractors, based on the length of their anti-Trump sentiments, their willingness to vocalize it and their relative prominence in the Republican political world.
10. The entire early 2015 Republican Party: The fact that Trump is the GOP nominee is all the more surprising because even GOPers hated him just a little more than a year ago. HATED him. As of February 2015, an early poll of potential Iowa GOP caucus-goers found 68 percent disliked Trump. Again, this was Republicans. Similarly, 69 percent of potential New Hampshire GOP primary voters disliked him, according to another poll. This is the kind of thing that made us and others declare that Trump could never win the GOP nomination. We were wrong, but we had our reasons.
9. Tim Miller: Miller was the communications director for Bush’s presidential campaign. When that ended, he took on a similar role for Our Principles PAC, the leading anti-Trump super PAC. Through it all, Miller took it as his mission to needle Trump – on social media and in real life. Miller is still at it despite it all. Here’s what he said when Trump blasted Graham on Friday:
“I hope @LindseyGrahamSC frames this on his wall as a badge of honor. @ScottFarmerSC https://t.co/4bnSqrAWLL”
8. David Brooks: The cerebral New York Times conservative columnist spews less vitriol than many on this list, but he has been one of the longest and most steadfast of the Trump critics within the intellectual wing of the party. Here’s Brooks from a mid-March column headlined “No, Not Trump, Not Ever”:
“Donald Trump is epically unprepared to be president. He has no realistic policies, no advisers, no capacity to learn. His vast narcissism makes him a closed fortress. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and he’s uninterested in finding out. He insults the office Abraham Lincoln once occupied by running for it with less preparation than most of us would undertake to buy a sofa.”
That’s pretty stinging.
7. Rick Wilson: The ever-quotable GOP media strategist was calling for the party to fight back against Donald Trump long ago – when everyone was still playing nice and hoping eventually just he’d go away. We’ll let Wilson’s September Politico magazine piece speak for him: “With the scenery-chewing, oxygen-sucking political black hole that is Donald Trump, I have one question for the ‘don’t attack’ camp; how’s that working out for you?” And: “You could be living on a diet of lead paint, cheap vodka and Real Housewives and still know more than Trump does about, well, everything.”
6. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Michigan: Amash has been a prominent Ted Cruz supporter, but his criticisms of Trump have gone further than most anyone. In early March, he said, “Trump is not a noninterventionist in foreign affairs; he’s a national populist who will adopt any position that advances his political ends.” He also said Trump might pose a “bigger threat” to limited government than either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. He was one of the first to label Trump “dangerous.”
5. The Bush family: It’s not just that Trump destroyed Jeb’s chances of being president by labeling him as “low energy.” It’s that everything Trump represents – brashness, ego, a disregard for the rules – runs counter to the famous Bush gentility. The day before the news broke that Jeb wouldn’t vote for Trump, his father and brother made clear they wouldn’t be endorsing the real estate mogul. Barbara Bush, the family matriarch, admitted she was “sick” of Trump in February, adding: “He’s said terrible things about women, terrible things about the military. I don’t understand why people are for him, for that reason.”
4. Bill Kristol: The Weekly Standard editor and prominent GOP thinker has wavered a bit on Trump, but seems to have landed in a very anti-Trump space. He has often mused about running a third option, even recently floating Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, who we’ll get to below. “I just don’t think he has the character to be president of the United States,” Kristol said Wednesday. “It’s beyond any particular issue I disagree with him on, or who he picks as VP or something.” Kristol added that Trump “likes rapists” – a reference to Mike Tyson’s endorsement.
3. Mitt Romney: The 2012 GOP presidential nominee accepted Trump’s endorsement four years ago, but he’s got no time for him this time around. Romney delivered a lengthy rebuke of Trumpism after Super Tuesday two months ago, saying “Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.” (But how do you really feel?) Romney now says he won’t attend the GOP convention this year.
2. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska: Sasse is second on this list only because he’s used less severe language than No. 1. But he’s been no less strident. In fact, he’s the only senator who has long said he will never vote for Trump. And on Wednesday night, he launched a lengthy tweetstorm reinforcing his call for a third option. Sasse is a rising star who has led the #NeverTrump movement from the start. And he’s not backing down, tweeting:
“At this point, I’d happily support a moderate. Would be more conservative than either of the two dishonest liberals now leading the Rs & Ds.”
1. Lindsey Graham: Picking a first among equals when it comes to hating on Trump is no easy task, but the South Carolina senator stands out for two main reasons: His willingness to speak out publicly and how he does so with such flare. “You’ll never convince me that Donald Trump is the answer to the problem we have with Hispanics,” Graham said in March. “It will tear the party apart, it will divide conservatism, and we’re gonna lose to Hillary Clinton and have the third term of Barack Obama.” Back in January Graham said that “if you nominate Trump and Cruz, I think you get the same outcome,” he told reporters. “Whether it’s death by being shot or poisoning doesn’t really matter. I don’t think the outcome will be substantially different.” (He eventually endorsed Cruz.) On the day Trump won the Indiana primary effectively sealed the GOP nomination, Graham tweeted this:
“If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed…….and we will deserve it.”
And we say: Graham, grow up.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Chris Cillizza, Aaron Blake