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Press: Never Trump, not ever

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If you want some idea of the damage Donald Trump could do to this country as president, consider this: As presumptive nominee of the GOP for less than a week, he’s already managed to split the Republican Party in half.

It’s astounding. And it’s playing out in prime time. One by one, loyal, lifelong and leading Republicans are being forced to ask themselves what has never before been at question: Will they support their party’s presidential nominee this year or not?

{mosads}The list of those who say they will support Trump includes some heavy-hitters: former Vice President Dick Cheney, 1996 presidential nominee Bob Dole, ex-White House contenders Ben Carson and Chris Christie, and Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Mike Lee of Utah and a reluctant John McCain of Arizona, as well as former Speakers John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), Govs. Paul LePage of Maine and Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. 

But the list of those who say they will not yet or never will support Trump is a lot longer, and it’s growing stronger every day. 

This list includes Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), former Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, Jeb Bush, 2012 nominee Mitt Romney and Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Dean Heller of Nevada, as well as Massachusetts Govs. Charlie Baker and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner. 

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz and John Kasich are yet to be heard from.

Not that we should feel sorry for Republicans caught in this dilemma. After all, Trumpism wasn’t forced on them. They brought it on themselves, with eight years of pure obstructionism and pandering to the Tea Party. The “Party of No” became the “Party of Nothing.” Increasingly angry over Washington’s failure to deliver on anything, Republican voters were ripe for some outsider to rise up and challenge the feckless leadership of their party. Enter Trump, who not only challenged the party establishment but destroyed it.

So what’s a loyal, card-carrying Republican supposed to do? 

In theory, because there’s no third-party candidate, there are only three options: GOP voters can hold their nose and vote for Trump; vote for Democratic contenders Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders; or just not vote for president at all. 

But in practice, Lindsey Graham is right. There’s really only one option: stay away from Trump, let him lose badly and then work to rebuild the Republican Party after he’s gone.

Yes, with Trump as the Republican nominee, this election is, at one level, a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party. But it’s much more than that. It’s also a battle for the future direction of this great country. There’s too much at stake for anyone to cast a vote for Donald Trump simply because he — for now, at least — has an “R” after his name.

The scramble to save the Republican Party can come in 2020. For now, the priority is to save the nation. If you believe in America, if you care about the issues, if you have any respect for the office of the presidency, there’s no way you can vote for the least qualified, least experienced, least knowledgeable candidate ever to run for president. #NeverTrump.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “Buyer’s Remorse: How Obama Let Progressives Down.”

Tags Bernie Sanders Boehner Dean Heller Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Jeff Flake Jeff Sessions John Boehner John McCain Lindsey Graham Mike Lee Paul Ryan Ted Cruz

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