Former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, a Republican who served in the Bush administration from 2005 to 2009, endorsed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton Wednesday.
The Clinton campaign immediately touted Gutierrez’s endorsement in an announcement Wednesday about a new group it was launching, Together for America, to reach out to Republicans and Independents.
The Clinton announcement included a statement by Gutierrez that said: “I support Hillary Clinton because she has the steady temperament and the experience to serve as president.”
“She has shown her commitment to strengthening U.S.-Cuba relations, immigration reform, and America’s role in today’s competitive global economy,” the statement said. “I look forward to supporting her progress on these important issues.”
Gutierrez’s endorsement is the latest in a nearly continuous streak of announcements by prominent Republicans to the effect that they are breaking from their traditional partisan loyalties and backing the Democratic presidential nominee, typically because of strong objections to GOP nominee Donald Trump.
In the last several weeks, Trump found himself under fire again for getting into pointed exchanges with the parents of a Muslim U.S. Army captain who was killed in Iraq.
The captain’s father, Khizr Khan, delivered an emotional speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in late July in which he assailed Trump. Trump shot back with comments that were denounced by many, including Republican leaders, as insensitive.
On Tuesday, Trump again drew criticism when he made a comment about Clinton and Second Amendment supporters that some alleged was code language for encouraging violence against her. Trump said his remarks were misconstrued.
But it was the kind of backlash and harsh spotlight that have worried many Republicans, and prompted them to denounce him or not endorse him. Many Republicans who long have been seen as stalwart party members have raised eyebrows by going a step further and saying they’re backing Clinton.
“Voters are increasingly seeing that Clinton understands the complex and volatile world we live in and has the experience and temperament to be president and lead the nation as Commander in Chief and that Donald Trump does not,” said Hillary for American Campaign Chairman John Podesta. “These endorsements send a strong signal to Republican and Independent voters that respected leaders are putting country over political party in this election.”
“Donald Trump is unfit, lacks the temperament, and is too dangerous to be in the Oval Office and the Situation Room,” Podesta said. “Regardless of party, voters are increasingly concerned that Trump's tendency to bully, demean and degrade others sends the wrong message to our children."
Some Republicans have, in turn, taken aim at GOP leaders who are backing Clinton.
“Many of them have never been real conservatives,” said Alfonso Aguilar, a former George W. Bush administration official who had initially backed the candidacy of Jeb Bush before he dropped out of the presidential race. “I respect Carlos Gutierrez, but he was always more center-left. It’s alright to say you’re not endorsing Donald Trump, I did not support him once myself, and I have differences with Trump.”
But to support Clinton, said Aguilar, who is executive director of the American Principles Project Latino Partnership, is to support policies and views that are antithetical to conservative ideology.
Rosario Marin, another lifelong Republican and former George W. Bush administration official – she was U.S. Treasurer – has said she cannot support Trump because he continues to offend immigrants and Latinos.
Marin, who even boycotted the Republican National Convention for the first time since she began attending decades ago, said she understands how Republicans choose to endorse Clinton.
“I have disagreed vehemently with Hillary Clinton, I don’t agree with many of her policy positions,” Marin said. “But, I have never heard her insult Mexicans, never heard her insult immigrants. For me, I don’t understand how the hate for Hillary some Republicans say [they feel] – they actually use the word ‘hate’ – is stronger than the love for our community.”