A small number of influential Republican lawmakers are doing what was nearly unthinkable just a few months ago – they are throwing their support behind Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Some – like Ricardo Reyes, a veteran of the George W. Bush administration – have gone even farther than just backing Clinton’s bid for presidency. They are actively recruiting other Republicans who are on the fence about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to vote for Clinton.
While these defectors say they will still be voting for Republican candidates farther down the ballot, they believe Trump and his proposed polices create an “existential threat” to the GOP and could cause widespread damage for years to come if the boisterous businessman wins the White House.
“The Republican Party, at that point, will have been eaten away by the parasites,” Reyes told Roll Call.
Reyes, along with fellow Bush administration vet John Stubbs, traveled last week to Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention to tout their “Republicans for Clinton” campaign.
“His proposal to fortress America and design our foreign policy around isolationism is utterly reckless,” Stubbs said.
While most of “Republicans for Trump” are retired politicians or longtime champions of conservative values, the group did get its first siting member of Congress when Rep. Richard Hanna of New York announced on Tuesday that he will vote for Clinton this November.
Hanna said Trump’s comments attacking the Muslim parents of a soldier killed in Iraq were what pushed him over the line.
“I was stunned by the callousness of his comments,” Hanna said, according to the New York Times. “I think Trump is a national embarrassment. Is he really the guy you want to have the nuclear codes?”
Hanna said that while he disagrees with Clinton on “many issues” he will still vote for her in light of Trump’s candidacy.
“She stands and has stood for causes bigger than herself for a lifetime,” he said. “That matters.”
Reyes and Stubbs said other Republicans are still on the fence about whether they will support Trump, even though the Clinton name has for decades been synonymous with Democratic Party ideals.
“I’ve heard, ‘I can’t go there yet,’” Reyes shared. “Nobody has said, ‘I can’t go there at all.’”
The backing of Hanna adds some Beltway credentials to the “Republicans for Hillary” movement. But it so far lacks the household name that could inspire rank-and-file Republicans to actually get behind the idea of voting for Hilary Clinton.
A number of notable Republicans, including former presidential candidates Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have declined to endorse Trump but say they have no plans to vote for Clinton in the general election.
Still, Stubbs believes that Clinton’s time as secretary of state proves she’s better able to handle issues of global security than Trump and that her record of working with lawmakers across party lines while in the Senate is something that could appeal to Republican voters wary of Trump’s bombastic behavior.
“Trump is not interested in working with anyone,” Stubbs said. “Except himself, apparently.”