Rep. Richard Hanna, an upstate New York moderate, on Tuesday became the first Republican member of Congress to say he plans to vote for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in November.
Hanna, who is not seeking re-election, had already declared that he could not support Donald Trump even before Trump became the de facto Republican nominee. But his backing of Clinton goes a big step farther than other GOP Trump skeptics in Congress.
Hanna made his declaration in an op-ed published Tuesday on Syracuse.com: “I do not expect perfection,” he wrote of his presidential choice, “but I do require more than the embodiment of at least a short list of the seven deadly sins.”
He suggested Trump’s recent attacks on the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, who died in Iraq in 2004, compelled him to speak out in favor of Clinton.
“Where do we draw the line?” Hanna wrote. “I thought it would have been when he alleged that U.S. Sen. John McCain was not a war hero because he was caught. Or the countless other insults he’s proudly lobbed from behind the Republican presidential podium. For me, it is not enough to simply denounce his comments: He is unfit to serve our party and cannot lead this country.”
That stands as an implicit criticism of GOP leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. – who defended the Khan family in carefully worded statements but stopped well short of denouncing Trump personally.
Most Republicans who have expressed doubts or outright revulsion at Trump — including senators Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and House members like Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Barbara Comstock, R-Va. — have also said they cannot support Hillary Clinton.
Because Hanna is not standing for re-election, the political stakes of his Clinton endorsement are considerably lower than they are for other GOP officeholders who are wary of alienating Republican voters.
But Hanna offered a robust defense of his decision to back Clinton: “Secretary Clinton has issues that depending on where one stands can be viewed as great or small. But she stands and has stood for causes bigger than herself for a lifetime. That matters,” he said, citing her work on education and women’s health care.
“I trust she can lead,” he added. “All Republicans may not like the direction, but they can live to win or lose another day with a real candidate. Our response to the public’s anger and the need to rebuild requires complex solutions, experience, knowledge and balance. Not bumper sticker slogans that pander to our disappointment, fear and hate.”
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Mike DeBonis