Mitt Romney says no, Chris Christie says yes, and both George Bushes don't want to talk about it. But do conservatives have anything substantive to say beyond their love/hate for Donald Trump?
WASHINGTON, May 7, 2016 — Mainstream conservatives don’t say much these days about policy or how the Republican Party can make “America Great.” Instead they dish up a parade of platitudes and whines about why Donald Trump can’t be president.
Not everyone on the right opposes the presumptive nominee. Those who say Trump can’t be president should remember: Every American child can grow up to be president, even Donald J. Trump.
George W. Bush: ABSTAIN
The former president “does not plan to participate in or comment on the presidential campaign,” an aide told the Texas Tribune. (May 4, 2016)
George H.W. Bush: ABSTAIN
“At age 91, President Bush is retired from politics. He came out of retirement to do a few things for Jeb, but those were the exceptions that proved the rule,” an aide told the Texas Tribune. (May 4, 2016)
Mitt Romney: NAY
The party’s 2012 nominee—and one of Trump’s staunchest critics during the primary—told The Washington Post he would skip the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, and said at a D.C. dinner that he won’t support Trump. (May 5, 2016)
Bob Dole: YEA
The former Senate majority leader and 1996 GOP presidential nominee endorsed Trump on May 6. He will also be the only living GOP presidential nominee to attend the RNC. (May 6, 2016.) Dole previously would not commit to voting for Trump but said in January that Trump would be preferable to Cruz. (May 5, 2016)
John Boehner: YEA
The former speaker, who says he and Trump are “texting buddies,” told an audience at Stanford University that he’d back Trump in the general election. (April 28, 2016)
Tom DeLay: UNDECIDED
The former House majority leader hasn’t spoken out since Trump’s ascension, but was highly critical of him during the primary: “We have got to stop Trump. Whatever it takes without cheating or violating the rules of the Republican primaries,” he told Newsmax.
Dick Cheney: YEA
The former vice president blasted Trump during the primary over his stance on 9/11, and said he “sounds like a liberal Democrat,” but he now says he will back the nominee. (May 6, 2016)
Newt Gingrich: YEA
The former speaker of the House did not formally endorse Trump during the primary, but he has repeatedly praised the mogul and his vision and is said to be a contender for a position in a Trump administration.
Jeb Bush: NAY
The former Florida governor and presidential candidate came to detest Trump during the campaign. In April, he said he would not attend the Republican National Convention. He now says he will not vote for either Trump or Clinton. (May 6, 2016)
Reince Priebus: YEA
As chair of the Republican National Committee, Priebus doesn’t really have a choice, though that doesn’t mean he won’t pour Baileys in his cereal over it. (May 4, 2016)
Mike Huckabee: YEA
The former Arkansas governor, who ran for president this year, says Republicans should get in line. “When we nominated people over the past several election cycles, some of us had heartburn, but we stepped up and supported the nominee,” he said. “You’re either on the team, or you’re not on the team.” (May 5, 2016)
Mitch McConnell: YEA
The Senate majority leader issued a statement tepidly backing Trump. “I have committed to supporting the nominee chosen by Republican voters, and Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee is now on the verge of clinching that nomination,” he said. (May 4, 2016)
Ted Cruz: UNDECIDED
In dropping out of the Republican race after losing to Trump, the Texas senator did not make any indication whether he was willing to back his rival. (May 3, 2016)
Jeff Sessions: YEA
The Alabama senator was Trump’s first endorser from the Senate, and he has been a high-profile backer and adviser to Trump’s campaign.
Susan Collins: UNDECIDED
The Maine senator and moderate said, “I have always supported the Republican nominee for president, and I suspect I would do so this year, but I do want see what Donald Trump does from here on out.” To win her vote, “He’s going to have stop with gratuitous personal insults,” she said, amusingly. (May 4, 2016)
John McCain: YEA
The Arizona senator and 2008 GOP presidential nominee, who is in a tight re-election battle, says publicly that he’ll back the nominee. In a private recording obtained by Politico, however, he frets that Trump endangers his re-election effort, while his former top aide Mark Salter is backing Clinton. (May 5, 2016)
Kelly Ayotte: YEA
The New Hampshire senator, who is also in a tight re-election battle, says she plans to “support” but not “endorse” Trump, whatever that means. (May 5, 2016)
Lindsey Graham: NAY
The South Carolina senator and former presidential candidate was one of Trump’s most prominent critics during the primary, endorsing Cruz even though he’d previously likened the choice between Cruz and Trump to a choice between poisoning and being shot. The day Trump won Indiana, Graham tweeted: “Graham says he will not vote for either Trump or Clinton.” (May 6, 2016)
Ben Sasse: NAY
The Nebraska freshman senator was another anti-Trump ringleader and has been suggested as a third-party candidate. In a long Facebook post, he explained why he’s still not backing Trump. (May 4, 2016)
Marco Rubio: YEA
The Florida senator and former presidential candidate has not spoken about the race since Trump became the presumptive nominee, but in late April he said that he’d support Trump in order to beat Hillary Clinton. (April 21, 2016)
Chris Christie: YEA
The New Jersey governor and former presidential candidate was Trump’s first major establishment endorser and has been a staunch ally.
Paul LePage: YEA
Maine’s sometimes-racist governor had backed Christie, but he quickly endorsed Trump after Christie did.
John Kasich: UNDECIDED
The Ohio governor and final Republican challenger to leave the race has not said whether he’ll back Trump. In his comments leaving the race, Kasich pointedly did not mention Trump or indicate his leaning. (May 4, 2016)
Nikki Haley: YEA
The governor of South Carolina tangled with Trump ahead of that state’s primary, and was elegantly withering toward him at the time. But she says she will back him. “I have great respect for the will of the people, and as I have always said, I will support the Republican nominee for president,” she said. (May 4, 2016)
Brian Sandoval: YEA
The Nevada governor, a moderate conservative, was no fan of Trump but will back him. “I plan to vote for the presumptive nominee although it is no secret that we do not agree on every issue. Elections are about making choices and the Democratic nominee is simply not an option,” he wrote on Facebook. (May 5, 2016)
Pete Ricketts: YEA
The Nebraska governor will back Trump. That’s a bit of a surprise because Ricketts’ father, mother, and brother were among the leading bankrollers of anti-Trump initiatives. Trump threatened them in February, tweeting, “They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!” (May 5, 2016)
Mike Pence: YEA
The Indiana governor and social conservative cautiously endorsed Cruz ahead of the Hoosier State primary, but he’s now on the Trump train. “I’m fully supportive of our presumptive nominee, and I do think Donald Trump will do well in the State of Indiana,” he said. (May 6, 2016)
Charlie Baker: NAY
The moderate Massachusetts governor told reporters he would not vote for Trump and doubted he’d vote for Clinton. Later the same day, a spokeswomanclarified to The Boston Globe: “Gov. Baker will not be voting for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.” (May 4, 2016)
Pundits and Opinionmakers
Bill Kristol: SOFT NAY
The editor of the Weekly Standard threw his lot in with the #NeverTrump crowd with gusto, and he’s been a leading advocate for a third-party alternative. But these days, he seems a bit confused about what exactly the word “never” means: “I mean, I guess never say never. On the one hand, I’ll say #NeverTrump, and on the other hand, I’ll say never say never. I’ll leave it ambiguous.” (May 2, 2016)
Ross Douthat: APPARENT NAY
After spending the primary alternately criticizing Trump and forecasting his doom, the New York Times columnist seems especially dyspeptic and despairing. (May 5, 2016)
Ann Coulter: YEA
Coulter has been a backer of Trump for months.
George Will: NAY
The dean of conservative columnists detests Trump and has called for Republicans to defeat him if he is their nominee: “Were he to be nominated, conservatives would have two tasks. One would be to help him lose 50 states—condign punishment for his comprehensive disdain for conservative essentials, including the manners and grace that should lubricate the nation’s civic life.” (April 29, 2016)
Charles Krauthammer: SOFT NAY
The leading writer has been very critical of Trump, but in an interview with Bill O’Reilly, he left the door ajar to change his mind. “Let me just say from what I’ve seen up until now, heard from Trump and watched him, I don’t think I’d be capable of voting for Donald Trump,” he said. “Question is, what do I do? I don’t know yet.” (May 3, 2016)
Sean Hannity: YEA
Hannity has been one of Trump’s two most reliable cheerleaders in the media.
Matt Drudge: YEA
The publisher of the Drudge Report has been, along with Hannity, Trump’s best friend in the press.
Sarah Palin: YEA
The former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate endorsed Trump with a Dadaist address to Iowans in January, and she’s stumped for him since.
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