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GOP Leaders Are Starting To Do The Once Unthinkable

GOP Leaders Are Starting To Do The Once Unthinkable

[DIGEST: New York Times, CNN]

Donald Trump has “undermined the character of the nation,” according to Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, a political activist and top Republican donor, who called Trump a “dishonest demagogue” who would lead the United States “on a very dangerous journey.” Whitman indicated she would throw her support behind Hillary Clinton. Though Whitman acknowledged she and Clinton have different opinions on policy, she admitted Republicans must move “to put country first before party.”

Whitman is a valuable asset to the Clinton campaign. She has ties to the nation’s business elite (including a close relationship with Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee), and has access to a sizable network of contributors willing to support Clinton. Whitman will personally give Clinton’s campaign an amount “in the mid six figures,” according to one of her aides.

The defection of Representative Richard Hanna (R-NY) is another sign that Republicans will need to work long and hard to repair fractures within the party. While numerous prominent conservatives from Ohio Gov. John Kasich to Sen. John McCain have openly admonished Trump, Hanna is the first Republican member of Congress to announce his unequivocal support for Clinton in November. The GOP is “becoming increasingly less capable of nominating a person who is electable as president,” he wrote in an op-ed for “The primary process is so geared toward the party's political base, which ignores the fact that we have largely alienated women, Hispanics, the LGBT community, young voters and many others in general.” He called Trump “self-involved,” “narcissistic,” “profoundly offensive,”  and “unrepentant in all things.”

Richard Hanna. (Credit: Source.)

A former president also weighed in on the billionaire businessman’s controversial immigration proposals. Speaking at a campaign rally for Sen. Rob Portman in Ohio, former President George W. Bush critiqued Trump’s policies of “isolationism, nativism, and protectionism” without mentioning Trump by name. Bush and his father, former President George H.W. Bush, have refused to back the Republican nominee and neither one chose to attend the Republican National Convention last month. "It was an interesting exercise of statecraft. No one could say he directly spoke in attack mode against Donald Trump,” said former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell. “Neither could anybody miss the fact that he thought there were some cutting-edge issues that Trump is advancing that need to be scrutinized and debated.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has openly pledged his support for Donald Trump, but a former adviser who worked closely with him on the campaign trail and in his office says she will cross party lines

and vote for Hillary Clinton. "I'm voting for her because I don't believe it's enough to say you aren't for Donald Trump," said Maria Comella. She called Trump a “demagogue” who preys on “people's anxieties with loose information and salacious rhetoric, drumming up fear and hatred of the 'other.’”

Comella is not alone. On Monday, Sally Bradshaw, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s top adviser, announced her departure from the GOP, switching her registration to unaffiliated. The Republican Party is "at a crossroads and have nominated a total narcissist -- a misogynist -- a bigot,” she said. Bradshaw, whose career began when she worked for George H.W. Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign, says she will vote for Hillary Clinton if the presidential race in Florida is close. "This election cycle is a test," Bradshaw said. "As much as I don't want another four years of [President Barack] Obama's policies, I can't look my children in the eye and tell them I voted for Donald Trump. I can't tell them to love their neighbor and treat others the way they wanted to be treated, and then vote for Donald Trump. I won't do it."

Sally Bradshaw. (Credit: Source.)

Tensions have continued to mount for the Republican leadership. In an interview with the Washington Post, Trump declined to endorse Speaker Paul Ryan in his upcoming GOP primary election in Wisconsin against Paul Nehlen. “I like Paul [Ryan], but these are horrible times for our country,” Trump said. “We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership. And I’m just not quite there yet. I’m not quite there yet.” Trump’s comments come on the heels of Ryan’s rebuke of Trump’s public feud with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of Humayun Khan, a Muslim American Army captain slain in Iraq in 2004, following their appearance at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last Thursday evening. “His [Humayun Khan’s] sacrifice––and that of Khizr and Ghazala Khan––should always be honored,” Ryan said at the time.

Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence chose not to address the tensions when approached by an Associated Press reporter at a town hall event in Phoenix yesterday evening. Nevertheless, the GOP’s consternation may further damage the Republican presidential candidate during a particularly tough week.