Donald Trump may be the Republican presumptive nominee, but not all GOP representatives are rallying behind him.
Earlier this month, Iowa State Senator David Johnson ruffled a few GOP nerves when he decided that he would rather quit the Republican Party than support Donald Trump. His decision, as Johnson explained recently during a radio interview, was made after he could no longer pretend to support a candidate who is a “bigot.”
“I’m a Republican at heart, but I don’t think it’s enough to say ‘I disagree with Mr. Trump’ or ‘I find him offensive’ or ‘I believe his comments are inappropriate’ or to actually call him the bigot he is, and then say I’m still going to support him. I thought the mood of the country is we really don’t like politicians who say one thing and do another. So I just decided to go into the auditor’s office and change my registration from Republican to No Party.”
Breaking: Influential Iowa State Sen. David Johnson leaves GOP to protest nomination of a "bigot with racial bias." pic.twitter.com/ogAomuDq7M
— Stop Trump PAC (@StopTrumpPAC) June 7, 2016
The decision comes even as Trump prepares to be officially crowned the Republican nominee in three weeks’ time. However, the GOP has seldom been so divided over its presidential candidate. An anti-Trump GOP faction, led by Colorado delegate Kendal Unruh, intends to loosen Donald Trump’s grip on the party’s presidential nomination by invoking a new “conscience” clause. Under the proposed clause, even pledged delegates whose allegiance is dictated by the results of state primaries or caucuses, can switch sides on the floor of the convention by, literally, invoking their “conscience.”
In a letter Unruh wrote to members of the convention rules committee, she laid out the framework of her plan.
“If any such delegate notifies the secretary of his or her intent to cast a vote of conscience, whether personal or religious, each such delegate shall be unbound and unconstrained by these rules on any given vote, including the first ballot for the selection of the Republican nominee for President of the United States, without the risk of challenge, sanction, or retribution by the Republican National Committee.”
But Unruh’s push is unlikely to gain much support among fellow rules committee members, given that no other Republican candidate appears fit to be an alternative to Trump, according to Politico.
— Annette Kocka (@KockaAnnette) June 27, 2016
Even so, as the Republican National Convention approaches, anti-Trump voices within the GOP have sheen a sharp rise, with Republican representatives beginning to express their protest by either refusing to endorse the real estate mogul, or by even leaving the party.
David Johnson, the Iowa State Senator who quit GOP as a sign of protest, accused Trump’s campaign of creating an atmosphere akin to that of 1930s Germany.
“We have a disenfranchised electorate. It reminds me of 1930s Germany, some of the study that I’ve done there. People are looking for scapegoats. It scares me. It really, really scares me. People are saying I’m imagining things. I don’t believe so.”
Republican Senator Kirk LEAVES PARTY over TRUMP. Now registered as a No Party. #liveyourconscience
— Debra Messing (@DebraMessing) June 7, 2016
Johnson is not the only Republican senator to have changed his affiliation from “Republican” to “No Party” this month. Mark Kirk, the junior United States Senator from Illinois, recently said he will not vote for presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump for president, according to the Hill.
“As the presidential campaign progressed, I was hoping the rhetoric would tone down and reflect a campaign that was inclusive, thoughtful and principled.
“While I oppose the Democratic nominee, Donald Trump’s latest statements, in context with past attacks on Hispanics, women and the disabled like me, make it certain that I cannot and will not support my party’s nominee for President regardless of the political impact on my candidacy or the Republican Party.”
While it is still unlikely that any of these voices will make a significant impact on Donald Trump’s candidacy, fear among several Republicans that his nomination would actually end up aiding Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton in the general election appears to be legitimate.
This week’s polls have seen Clinton opening up a significant lead over Donald Trump, and as the conventions approach nearer, Trump is finding it increasingly difficult to convince all the Republicans to rally behind him. It remains to be seen if he can unify the Republican Party, but as of now, the Republicans seem to be as divided over Trump’s candidacy as the Democrats are over Clinton’s.
[Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images]