Last week’s sudden collapse of Donald Trump’s primary foes has left a number of Republican leaders in a bind.
Trump waged a scorched-earth campaign to secure the nomination. He went to extreme lengths to belittle his rivals and the Republican establishment, deploying searing rhetoric while casting aside conservative policy orthodoxy.
Now the same party establishment scorned by Trump is trying to figure out what to do with him as its presumptive nominee. Some are refusing to offer their support.
“Trump needs to change his position on deporting 11 million Latinos to earn the governor’s support,” former New York Gov. George Pataki’s campaign spokesman, David Catalfamo, told Yahoo News.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio announced Tuesday that he would stand by his pledge to support the GOP nominee, though he also stood by his past attacks against Trump. Other former White House contenders found themselves in a similar box.
“I do not pretend Donald Trump is the Reaganesque leader we so desperately need, but he is certainly the better of two bad choices,” former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal wrote Monday.
Meanwhile, most Republican U.S. senators have committed to at least vaguely backing their party’s “nominee.” Only a few, like Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, said they will not vote for Trump in November.
New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte notably said she planned to vote for “our Republican nominee” for president, but hedged by insisting that did not count as an endorsement.
“I don’t know,” Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said of his voting decision. “I’m still in the first stage of grief — denial, I guess — at this point. But got to move past it and we’ll see.”
View where Republican senators stand on the Trump question below.