Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump now has three congressional endorsements. The first came from New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins. Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric spoke to Collins on “Yahoo News Live” about that endorsement and some of the controversy surrounding Trump’s candidacy and the endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke.
On why he switched from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to Trump after Bush dropped out of the race, Collins told Couric: “I’ve always been of a mindset we have to have an executive, a chief executive in the White House, not a politician.” He continued, “Certainly Gov. Bush had that experience as the governor of Florida’s success. When you see who is standing there now, the only man to have created jobs and signed the front of a paycheck as a chief executive is Donald Trump.”
Collins has not heard from Bush since he endorsed Trump last week. He said, “Out of respect to the governor I waited until he actually withdrew. No, he has not called me, nor would I expect him to. ”
On whether or not Trump’s initial hesitancy on CNN over the weekend to dissociate himself from the endorsement of Duke, something he blamed on a “bad earpiece,” caused Collins to rethink his own endorsement of Trump, Collins told Couric: “No, Katie, because Donald has disavowed David Duke’s endorsement. Clearly you don’t control who endorses you.”
He compared Trump disavowing Duke’s endorsement to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton disavowing certain things. Collins said, “Just like Hillary Clinton has disavowed her actions in Benghazi. She’s disavowed what happened with collecting money at the Clinton Foundation. She’s disavowed everything having to do with her emails.”
On why he’s not supporting Florida Sen. Marco Rubio: “He’s not a chief executive, he’s a legislator, and as the race has now unfolded, we have definitely seen desperate politicians doing what desperate candidates do, with red herrings and so forth. It appears he’s trying to out-Donald Trump Donald Trump.”
Despite his endorsement for Trump, Collins does not support Trump’s temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States or his immigration policy to deport all 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrants. He explained his immigration position to Couric: “My position has always been, since we have some issues in upstate New York with our dairy workers — many of whom are illegal immigrants who have been here 15 years and are in fact raising a family here — that I have a lot of empathy for these kinds of jobs that Americans won’t take. Thinking that through, we need an immigration policy that will give legal work status to these law-abiding immigrants. We’re not going to give them citizenship, but we will give them legal work status and figure out a way with a visa program where the farmers control visas and these folks have to come out of the shadows, they have to register, there may or may not be a fine. Whatever it is, but these are law-abiding individuals. So to use the language ‘deport’ or to use the language ‘be processed’ in some way so we know who they are, they get a Social Security number, they get work papers.” He continued, “The bottom line is, I don’t disagree, we’re not going to ship 12 million people out of here, but we can process them in a way where they’ll go in one door and come out the other with legal work papers. That is my position.”
Finally, Couric asked if Collins had heard about any other Republicans joining him in endorsing the GOP frontrunner anytime soon. His response: “To use the word ‘endorse,’ I don’t think so, Katie. There’s a lot of individual politics at play here, whether it’s a big donor that’s supporting Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio for whatever reason. A lot of politicians are going to stay on the sidelines, but they’ve all said pretty much, or 95 percent of them, they will support our nominee. We all now know that nominee will be Donald Trump. They will support him. Anyone but Hillary. I just think it will be a fait accompli after tomorrow night, and the word ‘endorsement’s’ not even going to mean much with what we expect Donald’s win to be tomorrow night.” He concluded, “He won’t need it.”