Republicans Start Running Away From Trump

Donald Trump's latest outbursts are causing Republicans to move away from him faster than you can say "electoral disaster."

Trump And GOP Elephant

Larry Hogan, Maryland’s Republican Governor, announced today that he will not be voting for Donald Trump in the General Election:

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said emphatically Wednesday that he does not plan to vote for Donald Trump, his party’s presumptive — and divisive — presidential nominee.

Although the first-term governor has repeatedly said he does not support Trump, he had never before stated whether he would vote for him in the general election.

During a visit to Prince George’s County on Wednesday, Hogan answered the question directly.

“No, I don’t plan to,” Hogan said when asked whether he would cast a ballot for Trump. “I guess when I get behind the curtain I’ll have to figure it out. Maybe write someone in. I’m not sure.”

Hogan was elected in 2014 with support from Democrats and independents. He is extremely popular across party lines in Maryland, where Republicans backed Trump in the April presidential primary by large margins.

The governor last year endorsed GOP contender Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey and a close friend. After Christie left the race and endorsed Trump, Hogan pronounced himself “disgusted with national politics” and said he would not pick another candidate to publicly support.

Trump has been under a new round of criticism from Republican leaders over the past two weeks starting with his comments about the Federal Judge presiding over the Trump University lawsuits being unfair to him because of the Judge’s Mexican ancestry and Trump’s advocacy of a wall between the United States and Mexico. That criticism has only increased in the wake of Trump’s comments in the wake of the apparent terrorist attack in Orlando in which he renewed his call to bar Muslims from immigrating to the United States and insinuated that President Obama is somehow sympathetic to the cause of Islamic terrorism. Across Capitol Hill, those remarks have caused many Republicans to outright walk away from reporters when asked if they still support Trump, or to simply refuse to answer the question while others appeared to side with President Obama and Hillary Clinton, who have strongly condemned Trump in strikingly similar speeches that were clearly most likely coordinated:

Top Republicans joined with President Obama and other Democrats Tuesday in sharply condemning Donald Trump’s reaction to the nightclub massacre in Orlando, decrying his anti-Muslim rhetoric and his questioning of Obama’s allegiances as divisive and out of step with America’s values.

Trump — who just a week ago signaled an intent to snap his campaign into a more measured tone for the general election — showed no sign of backing down from his suggestions that Obama was somehow connected to or sympathetic with terrorists, telling the Associated Pressthat the president “continues to prioritize our enemy” over Americans.

In separate appearances, both Obama and his potential successor, likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, blasted Trump’s proposal to ban foreign Muslims from the United States as dangerous and contrary to the nation’s traditions.

A visibly angry Obama also dismissed Trump’s repeated demands for him to use the term “radical Islam” when speaking about the Orlando shootings and other attacks. “Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away,” Obama said. “This is a political distraction.”

Clinton described Trump’s response to Orlando as rife with “conspiracy theories” and “pathological self-congratulations.”

The remarkable bipartisan outcry over Trump’s positions — coming at a moment of national mourning after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history — set off a new wave of alarm within the GOP over whether the real estate mogul’s promised pivot to the general election would ever materialize. The rift also highlighted the enduring tensions between establishment figures who want to be more inclusive and the bulk of the party, which backs Trump’s proposed Muslim ban and has rallied around him as the presumptive nominee.

Some of Trump’s most ardent backers defended his response to the Orlando attack, saying drastic measures were needed to keep the nation safe. But most Republicans on Capitol Hill tried to distance themselves from Trump’s comments following the terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando that killed at least 49 people. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) refused to respond to questions about Trump at his weekly news conference.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) denounced Trump for trying to rally support for his anti-Muslim policies, while others castigated Trump for the accusations he has lobbed at Obama.

“I do not think a Muslim ban is in our country’s interest,” Ryan told reporters. “I do not think it is reflective of our principles, not just as a party but as a country.” He called for “a security test, not a religious test” for immigrants.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has praised Trump at times for his willingness to shake up politics and recently met with the mogul, expressed serious unease Tuesday with how Trump responded to a national tragedy.

“Traditionally, it is a time when people rally around our country, and it’s obviously not what’s occurred, and it’s very disappointing,” Corker said.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a leading national security hawk, said he had “run out of adjectives” for Trump. “I don’t think he has the judgment or the temperament, the experience to deal with what we are facing,” said Graham, who does not currently support the mogul.

Graham, like other Republicans, took issue with Trump’s apparent suggestions in Monday interviews that Obama may identify with the radical Muslim terrorists. Obama “either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind,” Trump told Fox News.

Trump expanded on that Tuesday, saying in an emailed response to questions from the Associated Press: “President Obama claims to know our enemy, and yet he continues to prioritize our enemy over our allies and, for that matter, the American people.”

Graham said that Trump “seems to be suggesting that the president is one of ‘them.’ I find that highly offensive. I find that whole line of reasoning way off base. My problems with President Obama are his policy choices.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who faces a challenging reelection bid, also called Trump’s insinuations about Obama “offensive.”


Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), an Air National Guard major and leading House GOP voice on national security issues, broke sharply with Trump.

“I guess I appreciate Mr. Trump’s fieriness in talking about it, but you don’t do it by alienating the very people that we need, and those are moderate Muslims,” he said. “We have to use the folks that frankly are not radicalized, which is the vast majority of Muslims, to win this war.”

Given all of this, it’s hardly surprising to see a Republican like Hogan separating himself from Trump as much as possible. As the Governor of a state that will assuredly go for Hillary Clinton in the fall so any association between him and Trump could be a potential problem for Hogan’s anticipated re-election bid in 2018. By announcing that he will not be supporting Trump, and denouncing Trump’s rhetoric, Hogan no doubt hopes to immunize himself as much as possible from any negative blow back that might still exist in two years that could threaten his re-election chances. It’s possible, I suppose, that this announcement could result in Hogan being challenged from the right in two years but that seems as if it might not be so likely if Trump loses in the fall, especially if he loses so big that it causes damage to the GOP down ballot. In that case, Trump supporters and those Republicans who have opportunistically jumped on the Trump bandwagon are likely to be still licking their wounds from 2016. In any case, Hogan would likely be safe against any real challenge from that corner of the GOP under those circumstances, so disassociating himself from Trump makes perfect political sense in addition to being the right thing to do.

If Trump’s numbers continue to decline as they appear to be in recent polling, it’s likely that we’ll see similar announcements from other potentially vulnerable Republicans. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, for example, announced months ago that he would not support Trump if he were to become the party’s nominee. Other Republicans, such as Senators John McCain, Rob Portman, Mark Kirk, and others have announced that they will not be attending the Republican National Convention last month and have at least implied that they most likely would neither endorse Trump nor vote for him in the fall. Additionally, there have been some hints that some top Republicans on Capitol Hill who have backed Trump could revoke that support. House Speaker Paul Ryan, for example, endorsed Trump two weeks ago and has largely spent every day since distancing himself from the real estate mogul for one reason or another. All of this a month prior to the Republican National Convention. If things continue as they have been going, and there’s no reason to believe Trump will change, then we can expect a lot more of this in the coming days, weeks and months.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Terrorism, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Tony W says:

    Sorry Republicans, you elected him as your candidate and as I often hear from you – elections matter.

  2. J-Dub says:

    It’s possible, I suppose, that this announcement could result in Hogan being challenged from the right in two years

    Maryland isn’t going to vote for anyone to the right of Hogan. He is a moderate, common-sense Republican who is as far right as we are going to go in this state. I didn’t vote for him, but he seems reasonable enough. Oddly enough, I also live in MA, another Democratic state with a common-sense Republican governor.

  3. gVOR08 says:

    OK, Hogan is one. If Trump continues to slip in the polls we can expect others. If he rises in the polls, we can expect a fair junk to run back. For the most part, this is political expediency, not Profiles in Courage.

    I keep being reminded of descriptions of U. S. troops in the trench lines outside Richmond speculating on how many rebel deserters they’d see that night. Sounded like fishermen, “Looks to me like there’ll be a good run of Johnnies tonight.” Looks to me like there’ll be a good run of GOPs this month.

  4. Dazedandconfused says:

    Demonstrates why the Dems installed their system of super delegates. They paid the price with McGovern. Treating primaries as elections suffers from the problem of only a very small percentage of the US public participating, and every good pollster knows that sampling of self-selecting people is highly unlikely to be representative of the whole.

    I suspect Donald is either consciously or subliminally attempting to get himself fired and is applying maximal effort now as it is far better for that to happen at or before the convention. After being enshrined as the GOP nominee it will be orders of magnitude more difficult. He will almost certainly have to go all the way through. Best case then? He gets a cubic butt-load of responsibility which he does not wish to be burdened with.

  5. MarkedMan says:

    I’m not joking here: is Trump literally having a mental breakdown in front of all of us? He’s always been a narcissistic blowhard with a propensity for the dramatic, but I wonder if deep down* he is feeling incredibly trapped and he’s starting to crash?

    *It would have to be deep down because as he said in an interview last year “It’s not good to be introspective because than you start to have doubts”

  6. HarvardLaw92 says:


    I don’t dislike Hogan, although I’m still convinced that the 2014 election was more about rejecting (and deservedly so) Anthony Brown that it was about like for Hogan. The fact that the most liberal Attorney General in the state’s history (the guy who almost single-handedly pushed Maryland’s recently strengthened gun laws through the Assembly) got 150,000 more votes than Hogan did tells me that much.

    I think he mostly seems palatable because he’s entirely hamstrung. Both houses of the Maryland General Assembly have Democratic super-majorities They’ve overridden every single one of his vetoes without even breaking a sweat.

    I agree that he shouldn’t be worried about being primaried from the left in Maryland. He’s about as far right as the electorate would tolerate to begin with. His problem is much more one of who the Democrats run for governor in 2018.

  7. CSK says:


    And Baker can’t stand Trump.

  8. al-Alameda says:

    Trump is turning out to be just as amenable to campaign advice and coaching as Sarah Palin was: which is to say, ‘not at all.’ He got to where he is without the Republican Party and I’m sure he feels that he does not need their ‘loser’ advice.

    Maybe it’s the smell of Impending Convention Drama in the air, but I’m beginning to wonder how the Cleveland Convention is going to play out?

    (1) Have a VP choice forced on him by the GOP establishment?
    (2) Insiders cut delegate deals to ‘Dump Trump’?
    (3) Trump steps down accusing the Republican Party of sabotaging him?

  9. Facebones says:

    I think it very important that the democrats keep tying Trump to the Republicans. They need to make everyone realize that the only difference between him and the “moderates” is how loud he bellows.

    For example:

    “Donald Trump, like Mitch McConnell and every other Republican, opposes an increase in the minimum wage.”
    “Donald Trump, like Paul Ryan and every other Republican, wants to cut taxes on the super rich by billions.”
    “Donald Trump, like Marco Rubio and every other Republican, denies that global warming is real.”

    Keep tying him to the party like an anchor.

  10. CSK says:


    It’s possible that Trump could step down and accuse the party of sabotaging him, being the inveterate whiner that he is. But he really wants that nomination/coronation. I think it’s more likely he’ll get it and then bail, because of a suddenly diagnosed mystery ailment.

  11. MarkedMan says:


    I’m beginning to wonder how the Cleveland Convention is going to play out?

    (1) Have a VP choice forced on him by the GOP establishment?

    Hmmm. What about a combo shot? #1 followed by a whispered campaign that a Republican Senate will impeach Trump at the first opportunity?

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!!! That rabbit’s DYNAMITE!!!”
    “He’s got sharp point teeth. Nnngghh, nngghhh…”

    Ah yes the GOP, just full of hearty courageous patriots like Brave Brave Sir Robin.

  13. Grumpy Realist says:

    What this also means is that Trump’s VP pick may be more important than normal.

    What’s the over/under that Trump will pick Newt? If he really is trolling us, it’ll be La Palin.

  14. CSK says:

    @Grumpy Realist:

    Who wants to commit career suicide by being his V.P.?

  15. Kari Q says:


    Does Newt have a career? What’s he got to lose by taking the nomination?

  16. CSK says:

    @Kari Q:

    Becoming a laughingstock rather than remaining an
    “elder statesman”?

  17. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kari Q:..What’s he got to lose by taking the nomination?

    He might not want to give up his nap time.

  18. gVOR08 says:

    @Kari Q:

    Does Newt have a career? What’s he got to lose by taking the nomination?

    Or Christie? Plus Trump apparently already has Christie house broken.

  19. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Facebones: Indeed. And moreover “[Obama] continues to prioritize our enemy over our allies and, for that matter, the American people” is what Mitch, Lindsay, Paul, John B, before him and RWNJ echo chamber has been saying for SEVEN AND A HALF FLOCKING YEARS NOW! The GOP just doesn’t like the mirror they got for a primary election gift.

  20. Surreal American says:


    Do Gingrich and Palin have careers to risk at this point?

  21. Pete S says:

    @Tony W: This is right. If you are a Republican Trump is your candidate. His views are the views of the most active voters in the party. You cannot just say I am a Republican but not that kind of Republican. He is now the Party. If you are running as a Republican, or drawing a salary as a sitting Republic local, he represents you whether you like it or not.

  22. Hal_10000 says:

    My late great co-blogger Lee once coined the term Brownie Moment for when a previous supporter of President Bush II was “smacked in the head by reality and loses any and all faith in the president from that moment forward”. I think a lot of Republicans are having “Trumpie Moments” right now, realizing exactly what they’ve gotten themselves into.

  23. MBunge says:

    The more I watch, the more the similarities between Trump and Brexit grow.

    The Remain folks seem to have the better end of the argument on a bunch of practical matters but could very well lose because they not only don’t have answers for the legitimate problems/concerns powering the Leave side, it’s like they can’t even acknowledge them because it would violate their worldview.


  24. Loviatar says:

    Storified tweets by Jared Yates Sexton.

    A Trump Rally in Greensboro “Anger in here is palpable”

    That’s when I realized what had been there all along. This campaign, whose success has long been attributed to the forgotten working and middle classes, the so-called Silent Majority, has been, and always will be, an unholy alliance between the Hateful and the Privileged, the former always on a never-ending search for new venues for their poison and the latter enjoying, for the first time since Reagan’s ’80s, an opportunity to get out and step on some necks in public.

    Sicking, but the one positive is now they are out in the open and James Joyner can no longer claim that JKB, Jenos, etc are outliers. No, they along with James are the Republican party.

  25. Jen says:


    It depends if there’s some Grand Bargain being considered, doesn’t it? Trump wants his coronation in Cleveland. But if–IF–he decides to bail after that, the VP choice then becomes the GOP’s chance against Hillary, and the story itself is fantastic enough that it’d be good for at very least a solid book deal. If the VP-turned-candidate manages to win, it’s a story for the ages.

    It’s only if Trump decides to stick around to the bitter end that the person he selects becomes a punchline. I think the odds are about 50/50 right now.

  26. grumpy realist says:

    @Jen: Question: is that maybe why Christie is acting like a whipped puppy? Hopes of being picked as VP?

  27. Jen says:
  28. Scott says:

    @grumpy realist: Predictwise has Jeff Sessions at 23% and Newt at 19%.

    The question now seems to be finding anyone who wants to be VP. At this point who in their right minds would want it. Leading me to think that someone out of their mind would relish a VP nod. A fellow sociopath perhaps?


  29. Pete S says:

    @Scott: Maybe Trump just selects one of his kids (I think Donnie is 38) as a running mate. As long as Trump senior knows he is going to drop out before the election that avoids the legal prohibition on the electoral college putting forward two people from the same state.

  30. Jen says:

    @Pete S: It’s not a legal prohibition, it’s a bit more nuanced than that–the electors from NY would not be able to cast their ballots for two people from their home state.

  31. Pch101 says:


    The fragmentation of the Republican Party is benefiting the Democrats. And now you want Democrats to make unifying statements on their behalf?

    You’ve got it completely backwards. Republican voters should believe that Trump is not one of theirs so that they are less inclined to vote for him. If they wish to cast a lesser-of-two-evils vote, then it should be for some third party candidate who can’t possibly win, not for the major party nominee who could.

    Your message is the sort that appeals to diehard liberals who weren’t going to vote for Trump anyway. It feels good, but it’s counter-productive.

  32. An Interested Party says:

    It feels good, but it’s counter-productive.

    Is it? So tying Trump to the Republican senators in New Hampshire, Illinois, and Wisconsin won’t help their Democratic opponents?

  33. Tyrell says:

    The “news” coverage of the campaign has been abysmal, and more sensationalized than a Saturday sale at the local car dealer. I am trying to find factual news, not hype, “breaking news”, and partisan commentary. I guess that I was spoiled by the professionalism of Walter Conkrite, Ed Murrow, and David Brinkley. I am sticking mainly to local newspapers and radio.
    MSNBC: “More Stupid News Broadcasting Company”

  34. michael reynolds says:

    I’m taking Ben Carson as Veep. My thinking is that Trump will imagine it inoculates him on racism charges, plus he has to know the entire US Congress will be looking for opportunities to impeach him. Ben Carson’s such a moron no one would impeach Trump to get Carson.

  35. Pch101 says:

    @An Interested Party:

    If you link Trump to agenda items that Republicans support or position him as a foil to progressive talking points that they dislike, then Republican voters who would otherwise be inclined to dislike Trump may start to believe that he’s OK after all.

  36. charon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Carly Fiorina? Trump is running against a woman, not BHO.

  37. Neil Hudelson says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Didn’t Carson slip up in an interview after dropping out, admitting that he dropped out when he did because Trump promised him a position? I’m too lazy and don’t care enough to research this more than the one google search I tried. Carson would have the added benefit of making Trump look relatively sane in comparison.


    Nah, not after his comments on her appearance in the primary, and not after she was already one loser’s VP pick. If he was going to pick a woman, someone like Joni Earnst would be at the top of his list (although I think she has said categorically that she is not interested).

  38. gVOR08 says:


    But if–IF–he decides to bail after that, the VP choice then becomes the GOP’s chance against Hillary

    I expect that that’s true, but are there Party or convention rules on this? Is it a given that in the case of death, incapacity, or disinclination of the nominee, the veep nominee is automatically the prez nominee? And how do they choose a new veep? The old veep nominee just picks somebody? The 25th Amendment covered the replacement of Agnew with Ford, and then Ford naming Rockefeller veep after Nixon resigned and Ford became prez. But I have no idea what rules are in effect prior to the election and inauguration? Anybody know? Hopefully a moot question as the GOP, Trump or whoever, will lose, but anything can happen.

  39. Jen says:

    @gVOR08: I honestly don’t know for sure–I based that on the fact that once the convention has passed, the ticket is set. I don’t know if there are provisions in either the GOP or DNC rules for filling a ticket vacancy–but I would assume there would have to be.

    The only precedent I could find was that Vice President Sherman died a week before the election in 1912, so Nicholas Murray Butler was named to receive Sherman’s electoral college votes by the RNC.

    How else would they reconvene the delegates to appoint another candidate? This election cycle has been so very weird I’ve come to the point where I’m expecting anything, really.

  40. Mister Bluster says:

    @Tyrell:..more sensationalized than a Saturday sale at the local car dealer.

    Donald Trump is responsible for all these quotes Tyrell.
    The media you love to hate just reported what he said.

    “I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
    “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bring crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people.”
    “I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

    “My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body.”

    “Look at those hands, are they small hands? And, [Republican rival Marco Rubio] referred to my hands: ‘If they’re small, something else must be small.’ I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee.”

    “Lyin’ Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a shoot in his ad. Be careful, Lyin’ Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!”

    “The only card [Hillary Clinton] has is the woman’s card. She’s got nothing else to offer and frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she’s got going is the woman’s card, and the beautiful thing is, women don’t like her.”