That time a former GOP Senator endorsed Hillary
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I endorse Secretary Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP rushes to cut ties to Moore Papadopoulos was in regular contact with Stephen Miller, helped edit Trump speech: report Bannon jokes Clinton got her ‘ass kicked’ in 2016 election MORE for President. I told my wife I was amazed to be saying that!

I spent twenty-two years as a Republican member of the U.S. Congress from the state of South Dakota — four in the U.S. House and eighteen in the United States Senate. The Orlando shooting convinced me that many Republicans/Independents/citizens have a responsibility to speak out now to get some background check legislation passed. Secretary Hillary Clinton has been very courageous on this subject—she has stood up to the NRA.

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I am seventy-four years old and am going in tomorrow for a cancer check procedure at Georgetown University Hospital. At my stage of life, I probably should just keep quiet, but I think this dark election requires that Republicans really speak up. 

Since my endorsement of Mrs. Clinton, many of my fellow Republicans and Independents have whispered to me the same feelings, but they say they will simply quietly not vote in the presidential election. However, it is my strongest contention that we are now at a stage where no plausible third party candidate could run. Thus, we have to make a realistic choice between Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton.

We have the phenomena in our society of very bright “talking heads” from groups such as No Labels and the ReFormers Caucus (both of which I am a member) and several other well intentioned folks talking about how bad both parties are and how bad both candidates are etc. However, realistically we now find ourselves in the midst of a very ugly presidential campaign and we must make a decision. 

In terms of policy, Mrs. Clinton wins hands down. Secretary Clinton has had the courage to have a specific policy on background checks. That is my immediate reason for endorsing her. 

I must confess that my own thinking on this has evolved over the years. I am a pheasant hunter and a Vietnam combat veteran and I’ve always felt we needed some form of background checks, but in the last twenty years since I left Congress, we have had shooting after shooting. I have four grandchildren in public schools and the thought has crossed my mind at how awful it must have been for the people who lost children in the Sandy Hook incident.

The citing of Muslims as the universal cause of terrorism is unacceptable. The New York Times has recently pointed out that Mormons (and I am a Mormon) are very upset with Mr. Trumps’ anti-Muslim statements, as our religion was persecuted for a long time in the last century

On fiscal responsibility, deficit reduction matters, and defense policy, Secretary Clinton has mainstream Republican positions (in fact, in a Trump-Clinton deficit comparison, she is the fiscal conservative). Mr. Trump, in contrast, has not outlined any specific defense, spending, or budgetary deficit reduction positions.

Deep in my heart, I want to be a moderate Republican, and I hope that after this election we can find a new party or an Independent and get them to start running early. But we are in this specific election now and there is no escaping the fact that Republicans should come forward and publicly support Hillary Clinton.

During my time as a Rhodes scholar many years ago, I wrote a paper on the German elections in the 1920s and 1930s. The toxic tone of many of Mr. Trump’s statements scares me. I am certainly not comparing him to any European parties, but the silence of good men and women and the failure to speak up could lead us into an even more toxic atmosphere. 

Thus, in this unusual of times, I am rather amazed (as a twenty-two year Republican veteran of Congress) to be saying: Secretary Hillary Clinton should be publicly endorsed by Republicans for President of the United States.

Pressler is a former Senator and Member of Congress from South Dakota who lives in Washington, D.C., and is a lawyer, speaker, and writer. He is dedicating much of his life to finding ways to save our democracy and has recently published a book entitled Senator Pressler: An Independent Mission to Save Our Democracy.