Members of the GOP foreign policy establishment are open to supporting Ted Cruz or even Hillary Clinton for president if that’s what it takes to prevent Donald Trump from becoming commander in chief.
In interviews with The Hill, prominent Republicans who signed a scathing open letter denouncing Trump said they aren’t wavering from their opposition to him.
“What’s happening is you have a lot of people who are desperate to get anybody in there other than Trump. … People are going to go for Cruz, because at the end of the day they think he’s considerably less bad than Trump,” said Eliot A. Cohen, a former Jeb Bush adviser who also served in the George W. Bush administration.
Cohen, along with Bryan McGrath, organized an open letter opposing Trump that was signed by more than 120 members of the Republican foreign policy establishment. The letter declared that Trump is unfit to be president because his views of American power are “wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle.”
The Hill contacted 13 of the people on the letter and heard back from all but two of them.
Support among the group appears to be shifting to Cruz, especially now that the Texas senator has won endorsements from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
“Donald Trump is not a Republican. … He is a caricature of classless wealth. … He is a caricature of the ugly American,” said McGrath, the deputy director at the Center for American Seapower at the Hudson Institute who is now working with the Cruz campaign.
Still, some say the fact that more supporters of Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) haven’t joined Cruz shows how unenthusiastic many are about him.
“All the palatable choices are gone,” said a senior Republican congressional staffer who wished to remain unidentified in order to speak freely.
When Cruz put out his list of foreign policy advisers last week, only two of those named were from the Rubio campaign — Jim Talent and Eliot Abrams — and none were from the Bush campaign.
Recently, the Truman National Security Project, a left-leaning think tank, detailed several areas of foreign policy that Trump and Cruz had in common, such as wanting to impose a religious test on Muslim refugees.
“For someone who is a George H.W. Bush Republican, this is really an uncomfortable choice,” said Daniel Drezner, a professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy who signed the open letter and voted for Rubio in the Massachusetts primary.
Stephen Rodriguez, a former Bush adviser and managing partner at One Defense who is now supporting Cruz, called Trump “amoral,” a “fraud” and a “dangerous demagogue.”
“I don’t know what’s worse — having Trump say all those ridiculous things and being totally clueless, or having him say all those things and actually mean it?” said Rodriguez, who signed the letter.
“At the end of the day, he has done nothing to earn my vote. He doesn’t have the character or the values that would qualify him …read more