POLITICS

Former GOP and Bush administration official: 'Hell no,' he won't vote for Trump

Rudy Fernandez

Rudy Fernandez  (Courtesy of Rudy Fernandez)

A senior official with the George W. Bush administration and a veteran GOP strategist says that he is moving toward voting for Hillary Clinton for president – the latest indication that the Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump, has alienated the party's traditional base with his inflammatory campaign rhetoric and combative approach.

In an exclusive interview with Fox News Latino on Wednesday, Rudy Fernandez, who was special assistant Bush in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and has had a record of high-ranking posts in the Republican National Committee, said he is seriously weighing voting for Clinton because he cannot fathom GOP nominee Donald Trump as U.S. president. 

“Trump fails by any measure that you should use to judge a presidential candidate,” Fernandez said in a telephone interview from Miami, “whether it’s political experience, character, vision for the country. He fails.”

“I have many differences with Hillary Clinton” positions, Fernandez said, “but I fear a Trump presidency more than I fear a Clinton presidency.”

For Fernandez, the mere thought of voting for someone other than the party nominee is a wrenching one. Fernandez has been a party loyalist, involved at the highest ranks. It would be the first time he has not voted for his party's nominee.

The Harvard-educated Cuban-American was press secretary of the Republican National Committee, director of grassroots development for the RNC, southwest regional political director for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004, and served in a variety of other ways for the GOP and party elected officials.

“It’s very difficult to publicly criticize the nominee of the party I spent my career helping build,” Fernandez said. "It's the first time in my life that I’m not supporting the Republican presidential nominee."

Fernandez is among a group of stalwart Republicans who have such a strong objection to Trump, particularly as controversies involving remarks by him continue to pile up, that they have either publicly announced that they are not voting for him or have said they’re abandoning the GOP altogether.

“At this point, I believe what Lindsey Graham said a few months ago, that there comes a point where our hate for Hillary Clinton must be trumped by our love for our country,” Fernandez said. “He’s 100 percent correct. We have to save our country from a person who is a demagogue.”

“[Trump] has said so many things are that are nonsensical and dangerous and irresponsible for a presidential candidate to say.”

Fernandez was part of the so-called "Never Trump" movement – Republicans who during the presidential primaries said they preferred any other GOP candidate to the real estate mogul. Some have cited Trump's mocking of a New York reporter who has a disability, his remarks taking aim at the Mexican-descent federal judge presiding over his Trump University fraud case or the nominee's hostile exchanges – via social media and in speeches – with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of an Army captain killed in Iraqs.

During the primaries, Fernandez supported first former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, then Sen. Marco Rubio.

“At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to Clinton and Trump,” Fernandez said. “I would have supported [Ohio Gov. John] Kasich or even [Sen.] Ted Cruz.”

Fernandez said he also considered supporting Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, despit his having little chance of winning.

The veteran Republican, who lives in Florida, said he will firmly support other GOP candidates on the ballot in November.

"I will support Marco Rubio for Senate re-election, I will support Republicans running for the state legislature – no, hell no, I will never support Donald Trump."

Fernandez said he is not considering leaving the party. Instead, he said he wants to help save it from any damage it may experience from the controversial nominee.

“I hope to be one of the Republicans that helps the party,” he said. “I don’t want Trump to be the face of it, or to be the face of America.”

Elizabeth Llorente is Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com, and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Llorente.