Mark Salter, former Chief of Staff and campaign aide to Republican Senator John McCain — who was called a “fake” war hero by Trump in 2015, has also expressed his opposition to Trump and has thrown his support behind Democrat Hillary Clinton. Salter wrote an op-ed for Esquire in January explaining his resistance to Trump.
“Are we in such dire straits that we must dispense with civility, kindness, tolerance and normal decency to put a mean-spirited, lying jerk in the White House?” Salter wrote, “Are we not still the strongest, wealthiest, freest society on earth, with more opportunities for more people than anywhere else? We fought the last presidential election mostly over a 4 percent difference in the top marginal tax rate — not exactly an ideological battle for the ages. Four years on, is the notion that the country is hopeless so widespread that people are willing to throw in the towel by nominating for president someone who admires Vladimir Putin?”
But other members of the GOP establishment are willing to give Trump a chance to try and unify the party. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said he is not yet ready to support Trump, but will allow him the opportunity to show he is fit to be commander-in-chief.
"It is going to take more than a week to unify this party," Ryan said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal broadcast online. "If we just pretend to unify without unifying, then we'll only be at half-strength, and it won't be good for us in the fall."
Ryan’s main concern is ensuring a Trump candidacy will not alienate any segments of the GOP, but rather can be as inclusive and unifying as possible.
“I just want to make sure that we run a campaign that everybody can get behind — that people are proud of having,” said Ryan, “We shouldn’t just pretend that our party is unified, when we know it is not… Donald Trump deserves a lot of credit for winning the primary and bringing millions of people into the party — that’s a big achievement. The question, now, is can we unify all the various wings of the Republican Party.”
But some critics say the GOP establishment seeking unification following a Trump nomination would be hypocritical.
Robert Kagan, senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, penned an op-ed for the Washington Post explaining why he must support Clinton over Trump, if that is the decision he is forced to make, and how he expects many thoughtful conservatives will do the same. He also emphasizes that the environment for the “Trump phenomenon” to occur was created, at least in part, by the Republican “establishment” themselves.
“Was it not the party’s wild obstructionism — the repeated threats to shut down the government over policy and legislative disagreements, the persistent calls for nullification of Supreme Court decisions, the insistence that compromise was betrayal, the internal coups against party leaders who refused to join the general demolition — that taught Republican voters that government, institutions, political traditions, party leadership and even parties themselves were things to be overthrown, evaded, ignored, insulted, laughed at?” Kagan wrote.
“The Republicans’ creation will soon be let loose on the land, leaving to others the job the party failed to carry out. For this former Republican, and perhaps for others, the only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton. The party cannot be saved, but the country still can be.”