Donald Trump's nomination as the Republican candidate for president has forced a crisis in the party.
As opposition to the billionaire front-runner began boiling over months ago, especially after Trump's initial refusal to denounce former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke in an interview, a growing list of GOP elected officials and top strategists stepped forward to declare their opposition to Trump's candidacy. Some threatened to vote for his Democratic rival instead come November. On Twitter, #NeverTrump became a way for party stalwarts to voice their dissatisfaction.
But that was before Trump's victory in the Indiana primary all but clinched him the Republican nomination outright, eliminating closest rival Ted Cruz, who dropped out of the race. Ohio Gov. John Kasich followed suit. Calls for unity within the fractured GOP began, though both Cruz and Kasich declined to immediately endorse their former rival.
Unity has not come easily, though as time passed, many hold outs caved. House Speaker Paul Ryan, who maintained that he would support the eventual Republican nominee, said on May 5 that he was "not ready" to endorse Trump. Trump, he said, needed to do more to assure conservatives of his ideological bona fides. However, 29 days later, Ryan wrote an op-ed declaring that he would "vote" for Trump, without actually using the word endorsement, though it has been characterized as such.
Other GOP lawmakers, like South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and vulnerable New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte, have tried to walk a similarly fine line by saying they would support the party nominee without offering an official endorsement, and in some cases, without mentioning Trump by name. Most recently, politicians supporting Trump have had to grapple with how to address Trump's charge that Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge presiding over a lawsuit alleging fraud against Trump University, has an "absolute conflict" of interest in the case due to Curiel's Mexican heritage. The Republican Party devolved into all-out civil war in June as Trump defended his racially tinged criticism. Only one Republican, Sen. Mark Kirk, rescinded his endorsement.
More than 30 Republican lawmakers, strategists and commentators had already joined the resistance before Indiana's decisive primary. Faced with Trump's likely nomination, will they reverse course and support him, or stay true to #NeverTrump? Will Never Trumpers vote for a Democratic nominee, write in a candidate, draft an alternative, or not vote at all? Will more Republicans who endorsed Trump withdraw their support? Some have already decided. MSNBC will continue to update the list. — Kasie Hunt contributed reporting.
FORMERLY FOR TRUMP, NOW AGAINST HIM
1. Sen. Susan Collins
After saying she expected to support her party's nominee in April, Sen. Susan Collins penned an editorial on Monday night declaring that she would not vote for her party's nominee.
"With the passage of time, I have become increasingly dismayed by his constant stream of cruel comments and his inability to admit error or apologize," she wrote in the Washington Post.
Collins is not up for reelection this year -- and won't be for another four years -- and has been a consistent critic of Trump throughout the primary and into the general election, particularly slamming him for his criticism of the American-born judge Hon. Gonzalo Curiel's Mexican heritage. "I would love to be able to endorse Donald Trump, but he really has to change the approach that he's taken," Collins said on CNN in June. "If I were giving him advice, I would tell him he should own up to making mistakes. He should apologize to the judge and to the American people. And he should stop insulting people."
2. Sen. Mark Kirk (R.-Ill.)
The Illinois senator called Trump "kind of a riverboat gamble" in May, but said he would endorse him if he became the party's nominee — which Trump is poised to do after securing the "magic number" of delegates needed. Kirk faces a tough re-election challenge and originally said Trump would ultimately help him in that race. Fast forward past Trump's divisive remarks about Judge Gonzalo Curiel's Mexican heritage and numerous other controversial comments to June, when Kirk became the first senator to rescind his endorsement. He declared in a statement released June 7 that Trump's remarks about the federal judge were "dead wrong" and "un-American." Kirk then added, "After much consideration, I have concluded that Donald Trump has not demonstrated the temperament necessary to assume the greatest office in the world."
NEVER TRUMP, WOULD SUPPORT HILLARY CLINTON
1. Mark Salter, former aide and speechwriter for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
Salter, a longtime Republican aide to McCain, has been penning anti-Trump essays since at least last July. He wrote the first for Real Clear Politics comparing Trump to P.T. Barnum but "with bad hair." Then, in a January 2016 Esquire piece titled "We Deserve Better Than Donald Trump," Salter wrote more about his distaste for the front-runner.
"Are we in such dire straits that we must dispense with civility, kindness, tolerance and normal decency to put a mean-spirited, lying jerk in the White House?" Salter wrote.
In late February, he penned another piece for Real Clear Politics, proposing that Hillary Clinton was the preferable alternative. "Trump is not trying to make great America great. He’s trying to make us the worst we can be to satisfy his own vainglory. There’s no dealing with him, no trying to encourage him to behave like a grown-up, much less a statesman. If you can see him plainly and you love our country, you must vote against him. Even if that means electing Hillary Clinton."
Salter reiterated his stance in a Facebook post in March: "I will vote for Marco Rubio in the VA primary Tuesday, and, of course, I will proudly and with enormous relief vote for him again if he's our nominee. I will vote for Hillary Clinton without hesitation if the Fascist quoting, friend of the Klan, Donald Trump is the GOP nominee."
In May, when Indiana's primary decided Trump as the likely Republican nominee, Salter again doubled down on his opposition, saying again that he will support Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in November. He tweeted: "I'm with her."
2. David Ross Meyers, former White House staffer under George W. Bush, former communications adviser for the Senate Republican Leadership
But mention them Meyers does, in lucid detail, taking to task “opportunistic politicians, like governors Chris Christie and Paul LePage” who have endorsed Trump, and the Republicans “who privately (or publicly) oppose Mr. Trump, yet will support him as the Party’s nominee.”
Meyers goes on to declare support for Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, and urges Republicans to speak out against Trump’s candidacy.
“Any Republican who claims that it’s better to elect Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton either lacks proper judgement, or has become so blinded by partisan ideology that they have lost objectivity,” Meyers writes.
3. Eliot Cohen, counselor of the Department of State during President George W. Bush’s administration
Cohen clarified he would vote for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over Trump if those were his only options. He also organized a response via open letter that was signed by 60 members of the Republican national security community "united in our opposition to a Donald Trump presidency."
"Mr. Trump’s own statements lead us to conclude that as president, he would use the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe, and which would diminish our standing in the world," the letter reads. "Furthermore, his expansive view of how presidential power should be wielded against his detractors poses a distinct threat to civil liberty in the United States."
On May 3, Cohen wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post, joining the chorus pleading for a third party candidate.
"Even if a third candidacy still yielded a Clinton victory, it would be worthwhile. It would, first, deny the Clinton campaign the illusion of a mandate from American voters who would have, en masse, turned out to reject Trump. If nothing else, a strong third-candidate vote would send her a message to govern from the center, rather than in deference to her party’s increasingly powerful left wing," Cohen wrote.
4. Max Boot, foreign policy adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio, Council on Foreign Relations fellow
"I would sooner vote for Josef Stalin than I would vote for Donald Trump," Boot told the New York Times on March 2. "There is no way in hell I would vote for him. I would far more readily support Hillary Clinton, or Bloomberg if he ran."
5. Ben Howe, contributing editor to the conservative website RedState
A staunch member of the Never Trump movement, Howe invoked Alexander Hamilton, the founding father currently enjoying newfound popularity, after Trump's Indiana victory in a manifesto that laid out a rational for supporting Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton over presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. On Twitter and in an interview with MSNBC's Chris Hayes, Howe was similarly unequivocal.
6. Jamie Weinstein, senior editor, Daily Caller
Weinstein, in an opinion piece for the conservative news website where he is senior editor, wrote that “in a White House race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I’d prefer Clinton, just as I’d prefer Malaria to Ebola. In most cases, Malaria is curable. Ebola is more often deadly.”
Weinstein is engaged to Michelle Fields, the former Breitbart journalist who alleged that Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager, had grabbed her during a March rally hard enough to leave a bruise. Lewandowski called Fields “delusional,” but witnesses and surveillance video corroborated Fields’ account. Lewandowski was charged with battery, but the charges were ultimately dropped after prosecutors concluded there was not enough evidence to convict him.
Weinstein writes that he would prefer to cast his lot with a “serious conservative third party ticket that would present a more palatable option for conservatives than either Clinton or Trump.” But if that does not come to pass, Weinstein said, he was willing to vote for Clinton.
“If it’s Trump-Hillary with no serious third party option in the fall, as hard as it is for me to believe I am actually writing these words, there is just no question: I’d take a Tums and cast my ballot for Hillary — and I suspect so would many other life-long conservatives, whether they are willing to admit it now or not.”
7. Robert Kagan, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution
The neoconservative foreign policy commentator called Trump the GOP’s “Frankenstein monster” who is “strong enough to destroy its maker” in a February 25 op-ed for The Washington Post.
“The Republicans’ creation will soon be let loose on the land, leaving to others the job the party failed to carry out,” Kagan wrote. “For this former Republican, and perhaps for others, the only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton. The party cannot be saved, but the country still can be.”
8. Richard Armitage, deputy secretary of state under George W. Bush
Politico reports that Armitage, who also served as an appointee under Ronald Reagan, will break Republican ranks this fall rather than vote for Donald Trump.
“If Donald Trump is the nominee, I would vote for Hillary Clinton,” Armitage told Politico. “He doesn't appear to be to be a Republican, he doesn't appear to want to learn about issues. So I’m going to vote for Mrs. Clinton.”
NEVER TRUMP, NO DEFINITE ALTERNATIVE
1. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.)
Sasse was the first Republican in Congress to announce he will never vote for Trump. On Facebook in February, he wrote, “My current answer for who I would support in a hypothetical matchup between Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton is: Neither of them. I sincerely hope we select one of the other GOP candidates, but if Donald Trump ends up as the GOP nominee, conservatives will need to find a third option.”
After Trump’s decisive victory in Indiana, making him the presumptive nominee, Sasse tweeted that his February Facebook post still stands: “Reporters keep asking if Indiana changes anything for me. The answer is simple: No.”
Sasse expanded further in an open letter "to majority America" on Facebook the night of May 4, addressed to "those who think both leading presidential candidates are dishonest and have little chance of leading America forward." In the letter, Sasse urges his followers to consider a third party candidate and lays out a wish list of sorts for the type of person that might be. "Why shouldn’t America draft an honest leader who will focus on 70% solutions for the next four years? You know...an adult?" Sasse writes.
2. Mitt Romney, 2012 GOP nominee, former Massachusetts governor
Romney, an elder statesman of the party, delivered a scathing speech in early March denouncing Trump as a phony, a fraud, a misogynist and a threat to America. By May, when Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, Romney's stance hadn't changed.
"I see way too much demagoguery and populism on both sides of the aisle and I only hope and aspire that we'll see more greatness," Romney said at an event on May 5. "I don't intend on supporting either of the major party candidates at this point."
3. Sen. Lindsey Graham, former presidential candidate
Graham had loud, grim predictions for the country early and often amid Trump's rise, and called Trump a "loser" and a "nut job," among other things. He declared in early May that he would not support Trump for president, despite Trump becoming the party's presumptive nominee. And though just weeks later CNN reported that Graham privately urged GOP donors to unite behind Trump's campaign at a fundraiser, Graham disputed it, saying, "Nothing has changed."
In June, as top GOP leaders face further heat for Trump's racial attacks against the Hispanic judge presiding over the Trump University lawsuit, Graham told NBC News that he won't support Trump, but won't support Clinton either. He said he plans to write in someone, but isn't sure who.
4. Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.)
Rigell, who plans retire at the end of his current term representing Virginia, sent a letter to his supporters in March urging them to vote for any candidate besides Trump.
“My love for our country eclipses my loyalty to our party, and to live with a clear conscience I will not support a nominee so lacking in the judgement, temperament and character needed to be our nation’s commander in chief. Accordingly, if left with no alternative, I will not support Trump in the general election should he become our Republican nominee.”
5. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.)
The Florida congressman said early on that he would back a write-in or third-party candidate rather than Trump. “This man does things and says things that I teach my six- and three-year-olds not to say,” Curbelo said in an interview in February. “I could never look them in the eye and tell them that I support someone so crass and insulting and offensive to lead the greatest nation in the world.”
By May, when Trump became the presumptive nominee, his position hadn't changed. Curbelo told the Miami Herald that he would not vote for Trump, or for Clinton, the Democratic front-runner.
“I have no plans of supporting either of the presumptive nominees,” Curbelo said.
6. Gov. Charlie Baker (R-Mass.)
The GOP governor of Massachusetts told Boston Globe reporters in March that he did not vote for Trump on Super Tuesday and “I’m not going to vote for him in November.”
After Indiana’s primary in May, Baker's views had not changed. He told New England Cable News, an NBC affiliate, that he will not be voting for Trump, as he has concerns with his temperament, and has problems with what Trump has said about women, Muslims, and religious freedom. He also says it's not likely he'll vote for Clinton.
"I don't remember the last time [I voted for someone who is not a Republican]. I've certainly found this to be one of the most troubling election cycles," Baker said.
7. Patrick Ruffini, Republican strategist and early #NeverTrump adopter
After Trump’s victory in Indiana, which eliminated his Republican rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich, Ruffini tweeted that the Never Trump pledge was picking up steam.
8. Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY)
Hanna told Syracuse.com on March 9 that he won’t support Trump, even if he wins the GOP nomination, but didn’t say if he would vote for the Democratic nominee, vote for a write-in candidate, or stay home.
“This campaign is beneath the dignity of the American people,” Hanna said. “The debate has hurt this process. Our unwillingness to push back on the most mean-spirited, bigoted positions is hurting our party, and rightfully so.”
9. Former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R-NJ)
“While I certainly don’t want four more years of another Clinton administration or more years of the Obama administration, I would take that over the kind of damage I think Donald Trump could do to this country, to its reputation, to the people of this country,” Whitman said on Bloomberg’s “With All Due Respect” in February.
When asked if Whitman would explicitly support Clinton over Trump, she said that it’s likely. “I will probably vote for her,” Whitman said. “I don’t want to. I can do a write-in. But I think that’s where I’d go if those are my choices.”
10. Tim Miller, former spokesman for Jeb Bush, adviser to Our Principles, an anti-Trump super PAC
After Chris Christie, who ended his 2016 presidential campaign following disappointing results in New Hampshire, announced his support for Trump on Friday, Miller took to Twitter trashing the pair.
Miller also posted to Facebook on Super Tuesday, begging his followers to "please for the love of God go vote in the Republican primary against Trump.”
“He’s not looking out for the little guy, he’s selling them out for his own benefit,” Miller told MSNBC’s Chris Jansing. “He’s not a conservative. This is a person who’s flip-flopped on every major issue, and there is still time to stop him… I would never vote for Donald Trump.”
After Trump won Indiana, forcing both Cruz and Kasich out of the race, Miller tweeted: “Never ever ever Trump. Simple as that.”
11. Peter Wehner, GOP strategist
"Beginning with Ronald Reagan, I have voted Republican in every presidential election since I first became eligible to vote in 1980. I worked in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations and in the White House for George W. Bush as a speechwriter and adviser," Wehner wrote January 14 in an op-ed for The New York Times. "Despite this history, and in important ways because of it, I will not vote for Donald Trump if he wins the Republican nomination."
12. Liz Mair, GOP strategist
“I have repeatedly stated that if he is the GOP nominee, I will either vote third party or do a write-in, potentially of myself,” Mair wrote in a statement about Trump to The New Yorker published Friday. “At least if I do the latter thing, I know I’m voting for someone I 100 percent agree with for once.”
13. Rick Wilson, Republican operative
Put bluntly in his own words: “I will never vote for Donald Trump, not even if he’s the Republican nominee. I will never vote for Donald Trump, not even if Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley rise from the grave and beg me to support him. I will never vote for Donald Trump, not even if it means he forms a third party and runs as the narcissist sociopath he truly is.”
14. Former Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.)
Martinez did not hold back when criticizing the GOP front-runner. “I would not vote for Trump, clearly” he said, according to reporting by the Wall Street Journal. “If there is any, any, any other choice, a living, breathing person with a pulse, I would be there.”
15. Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-M.N.), Congressional Leadership Fund chairman
In an op-ed for The Star Tribune Thursday, Coleman called Trump a “misogynist,” “bigot,” “fraud” and a “bully” as he described why he would never vote for the real estate mogul. However, his choice of an alternative is unclear.
“Who my choice may be if Donald Trump is the standard-bearer under the rules of the Republican Party, I do not know. I know it won't be Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. And I know it will never be Donald Trump,” Coleman wrote.
16. Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX)
When asked on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” if he would support Donald Trump if he were the Republican nominee, Paul chucked. “No, I wouldn’t support him, at all,” Paul said, calling Trump’s populist-appealing, immigrant-blaming rhetoric “nonsense” and stating that while Trump’s approach might be different, his policies mostly align with the establishment GOP policies Paul has eschewed. “In some places, he's worse than the establishment. He loves torture!” Paul said.
17. Stuart Stevens, top strategist, Romney 2012
A day later, he wondered about a "support group" for "those not threatened by thuggish trust funder" Donald Trump. "Getting to be a small group," he tweeted.
18. Kevin Madden, former Mitt Romney communications director
Madden, like some of his peers, said earlier on that he could never vote for Trump. If Trump is the nominee, he said, “I’m prepared to write somebody in so that I have a clear conscience.” The results of Indiana's primary didn't change anything Madden. Regarding voting for Trump, "absolutely not,” he told the Daily Beast.
19. Ken Mehlman, former Republican National Committee chairman
Mehlman, who ran Pres. George W. Bush’s re-election campaign, tweeted his scorn for Trump after the David Duke debacle. “Leaders don’t need to do research to reject Klan support #NeverTrump,” he posted, linking to a New York Times article in which Pres. Ronald Reagan spurned the KKK.
20. Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard
“Couldn’t vote for Trump, couldn’t vote for Hillary,” Kristol told The Daily Caller in an email published December 1. Kristol later told The New Yorker on Friday that he would like to see another conservative candidate run against Trump if he becomes the nominee. “I’ve been Sherman-esque—and more!,” he wrote to The New Yorker in an email, “since I’ve said I would try to recruit a real conservative to run as a fourth (Bloomberg being the third) party candidate.”
In early May, however, Kristol was asked if there was anything Trump could do to win him over. Kristol repeated his "never Trump" stance, but then hedged, with "never say never."
"I don’t know that you can change your character at age 69, and given the things he’s said even very recently about other people, the way he demeans other people," Kristol told Newsmax TV. "But I mean, I guess never say never. On the one hand, I’ll say never Trump, and on the other hand, I’ll say never say never and I’ll leave it ambiguous.”
Kristol later reversed this softened stance on Trump on Twitter.
Over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, Kristol tweeted cryptically about having recruited a candidate for an independent run. On May 31, Bloomberg first reported the news that Kristol was referring to conservative lawyer and National Review writer David French, who also appears on this #NeverTrump list. French, however, eventually decided that he would not run.
21. Erick Erickson, conservative commentator, former editor of RedState, founder of The Resurgent
Erickson first criticized Trump last August after the businessman remarked that Fox News' Megyn Kelly “had blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever” when she questioned him during a debate about his treatment of women. Erickson, saying he was drawing a distinction between Trump's war on "political correctness" and "common decency," has not changed his opinion —if anything, it has hardened.
"I have become convinced that Donald Trump’s pro-life conversion is a conversion of convenience. Life is the foremost cause in how I vote. Therefore I will not be voting for Donald Trump at all. Ever," Erickson wrote in a post on The Resurgent last month. "Frankly, if Trump is able to get the nomination, the Republican Party will cease to be the party in which I served as an elected official."
(Erickson served one term as a Republican member of the city council in Macon, Georgia.)
After Trump’s victory in the Indiana primary, Erickson said he would de-register as a Republican, and that he wouldn’t vote for Trump or Clinton.
“If Trump is the Republican Party nominee, I won’t be a Republican,” he told the Daily Beast. “I’m not down with white supremacists.”
22. Steve Deace, conservative commentator and radio talk show host
"On national television Sunday morning, the current front-runner for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination refused to disavow being publicly supported by racists not once, not twice, but three times," Deace in a post for the Conservative Review after Trump's "Just another in a multitude of reasons why I will #NeverTrump – even if he is the Republican nominee."
23. Mark Levin, conservative radio host
Levin, a Cruz supporter, told Politico in April that he was "never Trump," thanks in part to a Trump staffer's convention tactics.
“So I want to congratulate Roger Stone," Levin said. "And if anybody has a problem with that Donald Trump, you can talk to Roger Stone. These bully dirty tricks Nixonian tactics, they’re only going to backfire. So count me as never Trump.”
24. Brian Bartlett, GOP communications strategist
Bartlett excoriated Trump in a post on Medium following the New Hampshire primary and vowed to never support the businessman. “A Donald Trump presidency is not the manifestation of our wildest dreams — it is our worst nightmare,” Bartlett wrote. “He does not represent the values of the party of Lincoln and Reagan. I will not support him in either a primary or general election, and neither should any other conservative, Republican, or American.”
25. Jay Caruso, contributing editor at RedState
Caruso penned a post on the conservative website Redstate listing five reasons why he would not vote for Trump should he become the Republican nominee. In the post, Caruso called Trump a “crackpot” who “has no class” and “is not a conservative.” Caruso further argued that Trump would do long term damage to the GOP. “I will not vote for Donald Trump if he is the GOP nominee,” he said. “In good conscience I will not do it.”
26. Linda Chavez, conservative columnist
Chavez lambasted Trump in a column for the conservative publication Townhall. ”If Donald Trump wins the Republican presidential nomination, I and millions of conservatives like me will not vote for him,” she wrote. “Some will stay home on Election Day; others will go to the polls to support down-ticket candidates in important races. We will do so fully aware that this could well mean another four years of a Democrat in the White House.” She argued that while the GOP could survive another presidential defeat, it would not survive a Trump presidency. “I and others who will never vote for him are no traitors,” Chavez said. “We are patriots who love our country more than we do any political party.”
27. Mindy Finn, GOP media strategist and president of Empowered Women
Finn previously likened Trump to a “bully,” an “abusive boyfriend” and a “master of propaganda.” In an essay, Finn gives her reasons as to why Republicans should reject the businessman. “To some who see a path to victory and want to join a winner, the list won’t matter,” Finn wrote. “For me, it’s secondary to his menacing character. So I wouldn’t support Trump if you paid me his net worth. I refuse to carry his flag. I challenge you to do the same.”
28. Jon Gabriel, editor-in-chief of Ricochet
Invoking Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, Gabriel said he could not stand to join the “Party of Trump.” Calling the business mogul a “big-government liberal” in a post on the conservative website Ricochet, Gabriel maintained that conservative principles should supercede political power. “If the keys are handed to a would-be strongman, I have no choice but to step out of the car and walk my own way,” he wrote. “If that makes me a bad Republican, so be it. I seek to be a good American.”
29. Stephen Hayes, senior writer at The Weekly Standard
Hayes decried Trump’s claim that he was a “unifier” in an article for The Weekly Standard, saying Trump’s assertion “is not just specious, it’s absurd.” The conservative writer further maintained that he would not back Trump. “Casual dishonesty is a feature of his campaign,” Hayes said. “And it's one of many reasons so many Republicans and conservatives oppose Trump and will never support his candidacy. I'm one of them.”
30. Glenn Beck, host of The Glenn Beck Program and founder of TheBlaze
Beck, an ardent Ted Cruz supporter, tweeted a photo next to former Republican candidate Cruz (R-Tx) while simultaneously denouncing Trump earlier in the primary season.
Beck has spoken out against Trump on the charge that the front-runner lacks true conservative bona fides. In a piece for The National Review titled "Conservatives against Trump," published in January, Beck wrote, "Sure, Trump’s potential primary victory would provide Hillary Clinton with the easiest imaginable path to the White House. But it’s far worse than that. If Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination, there will once again be no opposition to an ever-expanding government. This is a crisis for conservatism. And, once again, this crisis will not go to waste."
Beck even likened Trump to Adolf Hitler. “If you look at what’s happening with Donald Trump and his playing to the lowest common denominator and to the anger in us,” Beck said on ABC. “We all look at Adolf Hitler in 1940. We should look at Adolf Hitler in 1929. He was a kind of a funny, kind of, character that said the things that people were thinking. Where Donald Trump takes it I have absolutely no idea. But Donald Trump is a dangerous man with the things that he has been saying.”
Now that both Cruz and Kasich have cleared the field for Trump, a representative told the Daily Beast that neither Clinton nor Trump were an option for Beck. “When pressed as to whether Beck would resign himself to backing the presumptive Republican nominee, Schreiber wrote “#nevertrump.”
31. Dave Yost, Ohio auditor of state
In a Facebook post dated February 29, Ohio’s auditor of state, wrote “I've voted Republican all my life. But if Donald Trump wins the nomination of the Republican Party, I will break ranks with my party and will not support him.” At the time, Yost, who endorsed Kasich, expressed hope that Trump could still be stopped.
32. Nathan Wurtzel, Make America Awesome Again super PAC
Wurtzel, who describes himself as a 20-year conservative operative, is actively Never Trump on Twitter, playing whack-a-pundit with everyone from Fox News’ Sean Hannity to random pro-Trump opinionators. His tweets detail a moral objection to Trump’s apparent mind meld with white supremacists as well as his view that Trump, as a person, is simply unfit for the presidency. However, Wurtzel won’t be joining the Never Trump faction that is reluctantly aligning with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
33. George Will, Washington Post columnist and Fox News commentator
In a Washington Post op-ed published April 29, Will wrote that if Trump is the Republican nominee, it was the responsibility of the GOP to keep him out of the White House.
“Were he to be nominated, conservatives would have two tasks. One would be to help him lose 50 states — condign punishment for his comprehensive disdain for conservative essentials, including the manners and grace that should lubricate the nation’s civic life. Second, conservatives can try to save from the anti-Trump undertow as many senators, representatives, governors and state legislators as possible,” Will writes.
He ends his column on an optimistic note for the tattered GOP: “If Clinton gives her party its first 12 consecutive White House years since 1945, Republicans can help Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, or someone else who has honorably recoiled from Trump, confine her to a single term.”
34. Bruce Carroll, creator of GayPatriot.org
Carroll said on Twitter, “I will oppose ALL candidates of any political affiliation who align with @realDonaldTrump. That includes whomever is VP pick is.”
35. Mona Charen, senior fellow at Ethics and Public Policy Center
In early May, as Trump became the Republican party's presumptive nominee, Charen tweeted, “Attention weak-minded press and wobbly Republicans. We will never surrender. #NeverTrump”
Charen also wrote an essay published May 3 in the National Review torching both Clinton and Trump. "Trump is no more a manly man than Clinton is a feminist model," Charen wrote. "Both use the gender wars to advance their own bottomless personal vanity and ambition. Plague. Houses."
36. Dean Clancy, former FreedomWorks vice president
37. Rory Cooper, GOP strategist, managing director of Purple Strategies, senior advisor to the Never Trump PAC
Cooper went on MSNBC on May 4 and said he is committed to continuing the Never Trump campaign. “The choice between Trump and Clinton is easy, and neither. I do think though that we’re going to have to see what the ballot looks like between now and then,” Cooper told MSNBC. Cooper also mentioned that he has supported plenty of previous GOP nominees that he didn't agree with in the past.
38. Daniel Vajdich, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, national security policy adviser to the Ted Cruz campaign
Vajdich, in his role as adviser to the Cruz campaign on national security, wrote critically about Trump's fuzzy relationship with Russia president Vladimir Putin in March.
"There is no doubt that Putin would be maliciously gleeful if an American president adopted his style of autocratic governance. And this is exactly why Putin supports Donald Trump," Vajdich wrote for the National Review, later critiquing Trump's foreign policy address in Washington, D.C.
After Trump became the party's presumptive nominee, Vajdich had this to say:
39. Rep. Bob Dold (R-Illinois)
The Republican congressman, facing a tough race in a moderate district, told Crain’s Chicago Business in a statement in March that he could never support Trump. "Donald Trump's hateful words towards wide swaths of our country, from women to Latinos to veterans and Muslims, disqualify him from ever serving as president of the United States, and he will never have my support or my vote," Dold said in the statement.
40. Michael Graham, conservative radio host
Michael Graham expressed his Never Trump leanings by tweeting on May 5, “Trumpies...PLEASE stop idiotic "If you don't vote Trump you're voting Hillary" nonsense. By your logic I AM voting DT b/c I'm not voting HRC.”
Graham followed up with an article on May 4 for the Weekly Standard, clarifying he is still #NeverTrump: “If they [Trump supporters] acknowledge that it's possible for a presidential nominee to be so unpopular and off-putting that it hurts the entire brand, then they must consider the possibility that Trump is one such candidate. This is what #NeverTrumpers see as self-evident, but many Trump supporters don't see at all.”
41. Former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.)
In February, the former Oklahoma congressman predicted "a tremendous setback for the party" if Trump wins and told the Wall Street Journal that he would vote for a write-in candidate. Watts also had harsh words for some of Trump's rivals. "All these guys who are beating him up now, if he asks them to be his running mate, they'll jump in in a New York minute," Watts said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
42. Connor Walsh, former digital director for Eric Cantor, founder of Build Digital
Walsh is squarely behind the Never Trump movement.
43. Jonah Goldberg, senior editor at National Review
The National Review went to war with Trump in January when it dedicated an issue to the "conservatives against Trump," in which many prominent conservative blasted the front-runner, now the presumptive nominee. Goldberg, one of the publication's writers, is prominently Never Trump.
In April, as a Trump nomination looked more and more possible, he wrote a post entitled, "No, I Will Never ‘Come Around’ to Supporting Trump."
"People ask me all the time, 'If Trump is the nominee, who will you vote for?' I concede that for conservatives living in swing states, this is a legitimately painful decision. Clinton and Sanders alike would be horror shows," Goldberg wrote. "But my answer is simple: I will never vote for Trump and I will never vote for Hillary or Bernie. Period."
44. Jeb Bush, 2016 Republican presidential candidate The former Florida governor published a statement on Facebook Friday, saying that Trump does not "demonstrate the temperament or strength of character" to become president. The announcement comes after his brother and father, former Presidents George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush, said they won't comment on or endorse in this year's presidential contest. Jeb Bush said he "will support principled conservatives at the state and federal levels, just as I have done my entire life."
45. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.)
“I don’t plan to vote for Donald Trump,” Ros-Lehtinen told a Spanish-language outlet prior to Indiana's primary. “I don’t feel in my heart that I could support him.”
46. Alan Goldsmith, former staffer, House Foreign Affairs Committee
Goldsmith, who now works for nonprofits, proclaims his Never Trump status on Twitter.
47. Stephen Gutowski, Free Beacon staff writer
48. Ross Douthat, New York Times columnist
For months, the conservative writer critiqued Trump and the factors within the GOP that allowed his rise. Douthat also incorrectly predicted that Trump wouldn't win the Republican nomination many, many times, beginning in August 2015.
Faced with the reality of Trump as the presumptive nominee, Douthat laid out what he called the "conservative case against Trump":
"In sum: It would be possible to justify support for Trump if he merely promised a period of chaos for conservatism. But to support Trump for the presidency is to invite chaos upon the republic and the world. No policy goal, no court appointment, can justify such recklessness.
To Trumpism’s appeal, to Trump’s constituents, conservatives should listen and answer 'yes,' or 'maybe,' or 'not that, but how about…'
But to Trump himself, there is no patriotic answer except 'no.'"
49. Doug Heye, former communications director for the Republican National Committee*
In an op-ed for the conservative website Independent Journal, Heye said he could not support Trump if he were to win the Republican nomination. The GOP operative said the businessman was “the candidate who exists solely to exploit the genuine anxiety voters feel, without offering credible solutions to the problems that have made so many angry, instead appealing only to our worst instincts.” Heye also contended that Trump’s “perversion of conservatism” and “lack of knowledge or substance on the challenges facing America” would endanger the Republican Party.
50. Brad Thor, conservative author
Thor, who writes spy thrillers and appears regularly on television to discuss issues related to terrorism, crystallized his opposition to both the presumptive Republican nominee and the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, in a Facebook post on May 10.
"Growing up, a wonderful nun repeatedly told me that kindness could only be expected from the strong. When Donald Trump mocked the disability of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski – he showed himself to be not only weak, but also lacking in compassion,” Thor wrote.
51. Charlie Sykes, radio show host
In March, Donald Trump assented to an interview with Wisconsin conservative talk radio host Charlie Sykes, who vowed early that he would never vote for Trump. As Politico put it, it was like the billionaire businessman walked into a “#NeverTrump radio buzzsaw.”
In an interview with Megyn Kelly, Sykes doesn’t mince words. “I've cautioned my fellow conservatives, you embrace Donald Trump, you embrace it all. You embrace every slur, every insult, every outrage, every falsehood.”
52. Erik Soderstrom, conservative blogger
53. David French, National Review writer
After Trump became the party's presumptive nominee, National Review staff writer David French wrote, "The party of Lincoln is in ruins," and went on to expound what conservatives could do in the face of his rise.
"So, yes, conservatives must remain steadfast in opposition to Trump, but they must do so with a plan. A rebirth is necessary. Let it begin today."
French briefly considered an independent presidential run in May after he was drafted by Bill Kristol. Just days before news of his potential independent run got out, French had appealed to former presidential candidate Mitt Romney to enter the race via an article in the National Review, and appeared on MSNBC to discuss it.
Eventually, French announced that he would not be running for president.
54. Jennifer Rubin, conservative opinion columnist for the Washington Post
Rubin has not been shy about her distaste for Trump. On May 4, she penned a column entitled "#NeverTrump is good for the soul." She advocated for Republican delegates to withhold the nomination until Trump produced his tax returns. Most recently, she wrote about breaking up with the Republican party and turning independent, at least until it gets the Trump out of its system.
55. Quin Hillyer, conservative columnist
Hillyer, a longtime conservative and an avowed member of the #NeverTrump movement, referenced Trump's latest scandal —the fact that he posed as his own publicist, using the pseudonyms John Miller and John Barron, to say nice things about himself — in a joking tweet.
56. Former Gov. Tom Ridge (R-PA)
The longtime Republican was never behind Trump's candidacy, and on May 17, published an op-ed in the U.S. News and World Report under the headline, "Why I Won't Vote for Trump."
Ridge writes, "Every four years since my 18th birthday, I have pulled the lever in support of the Republican nominee for President of the United States. That streak will end this November. My disregard for Donald Trump has been well documented by multiple media outlets over the last several months, so I won't belabor it yet again. Suffice to say that I am disappointed that he is our party's nominee. With a bumper sticker approach to policy, his bombastic tone reflects the traits of a bully, not an American president and statesman. If he cannot unite Republicans, how can he unite America? I simply cannot endorse him."
Ridge also notes that he cannot support Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, and will focus on supporting Republicans in down-ballot races.
57. Iowa state Sen. David Johnson
The senior Iowa lawmaker had the distinction in early June of becoming the first official to leave the Republican Party due to Trump. The catalyst was Trump's comments about federal judge Gonzalo Curiel, whose parents are Mexican immigrants and who is presiding over a case that involves Trump University. Johnson told the Des Moines Register on June 7 that he had changed his voter registration to "no party." "I will not stand silent if the party of Lincoln and the end of slavery buckles under the racial bias of a bigot," Johnson said of Trump. He also added, "Mark me down as Never Trump." Previously a supporter of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and then Carly Fiorina, he said he would not vote for Hillary Clinton.
58. Gov. Larry Hogan (R-Md.)
Hogan said in June that he would not vote for his party's presumptive nominee.
“No, I don’t plan to,” Hogan said, according to the Washington Post. “I guess when I get behind the curtain I’ll have to figure it out. Maybe write someone in. I’m not sure.”
59. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.)
According to the Detroit News in May, Amash said he would not vote for Trump, though he is not directly quoted. However, he is quoted in a Fox News story as someone who will “never back Trump.” He told Fox News, “I’ve watched ‘The Apprentice’ for many years. He views himself as the deal maker. The person in charge. And no one is going to get in his way.”
60. Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.)
The South Carolinian said in an email to The Wall Street Journal that he would not support Trump. “Not that political views mean anything in this year, but because I believe in constitutionally limited government, his candidacy is one I certainly can’t support,” Mr. Sanford said.
61. Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.)
Ribble, who is not seeking re-election, told a Wisconsin television station that he would never back Trump and that an increasing number of House Republicans have privately echoed his sentiment. “There is a pretty significant number who say it to me privately, so I can’t say who they are, but it’s at least two dozen,” Ribble said, according to The Wall Street Journal.
FORMERLY AGAINST TRUMP, NOW FOR HIM
1. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.)
While the Louisiana governor called Trump an “unstable narcissist” in the past, Jindal later said that he believed Trump was a better choice for Republicans than Clinton."If it comes down to a binary choice between Donald Trump, I'm supporting the party's nominee,” he said on CNN. “I'm not happy about it. I don't think he's the best qualified, I don't think he's the one most likely to be successful, but I would vote for him over Hillary Clinton."
2. Former Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas)
The former Texas governor and two-time failed presidential contender once had harsh words for Trump. Perry called Trump a “cancer on conservatism” in a speech at the Opportunity and Freedom PAC forum last year. “It cannot be pacified or ignored for it will destroy a set of principles that has lifted more people out of poverty than any force in the history of the civilized world and that is the cause of conservatism," Perry said in July 2015. Now, he's receptive to being Trump's vice president.
Perry appeared on ABC’s “The View” to discuss the prospect of Trump as a nominee. While he dismissed the business mogul as lacking seriousness, Perry ultimately admitted that he would vote for him over Clinton. “I will, I will, at the end of the day, I will,” Perry said. “Senator Clinton has a different philosophical view than I do about what government’s role is. She believes the government and Washington, D.C., needs to be even strengthened more and more power put into Washington, D.C. I disagree with that and I disagree with it powerfully.”
He went further in an interview CNN, offering his full endorsement and saying he'd join the man he characterized as "a barking carnival act” on the Republican ticket.
“I am going to be open to any way I can help. I am not going to say no,” Perry said.
3. Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.)
The New Jersey governor riled the GOP primary when he endorsed Trump weeks after suspending his presidential campaign. "He's a good friend, he's a strong and resolute leader," Christie said in late February when offering his support to Trump. However, Christie expressed a different opinion when he was competing against the businessman in the Republican primary.
At a January campaign event, Christie said Trump's rationale for boycotting a Fox News presidential debate was "like a 13-year-old argument." The governor also previously mocked Trump for referring to Washington figures as losers and himself as a winner. "I don't think people have thought about it in great depth yet," Christie then said of individuals who gravitated toward Trump.
The governor also remarked that some of Trump's comments were "not worthy" of a presidential candidate. "If Donald starts yelling and screaming at me in the middle of a speech, you can be sure that I’ll say, ‘Sit down and shut up,’" Christie said.
4. Former Gov. Jim Gilmore (R-Va.)
Gilmore, who gained little traction during his run for the GOP nomination this year, previously criticized Trump for his stance on immigration. In August, Gilmore told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell that Trump’s support of repealing birthright citizenship in the 14th amendment is “dangerous” and sends a “dreadful message.”
In May, however, Gilmore told Fox Business that he would vote for Trump come November. Though Gilmore said he doesn’t agree with Trump’s past comments regarding Hispanics, women and African Americans, he said it’s more important that the Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton does not win the presidency.
5. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)
The former 2016 presidential candidate penned a note to his Facebook fans in January comparing Trump to Gollum, the grabby, ring-obsessed creature from "The Lord of the Rings" with a unique, if somewhat limited, rhetorical style. He also blasted the front-runner as "a narcissist," and "delusional" on CNN, then repeated the sentiment more colorfully during an appearance on “The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore”:
“Donald Trump is a delusional narcissist and an orange-faced windbag,” Paul said. “A speck of dirt is way more qualified to be president.”
However, in April, after suspending his White House bid, Paul asserted that he would back the Republican nominee, even it the nominee is Trump. (Ron Paul, his father, has refused to support Trump.) In May, Paul, when asked if he would endorse Trump now that he's the presumptive nominee, answered in the affirmative during an interview with radio host Leland Conway.
“You know, I’ve always said I’ll endorse the nominee,” Paul said.
6. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)
The Senate Majority Whip likened Trump to an "albatross" in an interview in February when discussing his reservations about nominating the then-front-runner.
Just weeks later, however, Cornyn seemed more optimistic, telling a radio show in March that Trump could actually be good for the party in terms of energizing voters.
"I think about the people who will turn out, and I think what we've seen in these primaries is a lot of energy, a lot of participation by people who are not traditional Republican primary voters," he said.
Cornyn continued to critique Trump for some of his proposals, like the idea of building a wall along the southern border of Mexico, but in May, when Trump became the presumptive nominee, the senator offered his support and urged other GOP leaders to do the same. After Trump met with Congressional leadership, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is still withholding his support, Cornyn tweeted:
7. Sen. Marco Rubio, former Republican presidential candidate
Beyond the "small hands" bit, Rubio, who left the presidential race after losing Florida, devoted significant time to critiquing Trump on the trail. He knocked Trump early on for not immediately disavowing the support of a white nationalist.
Then, as his campaign wound down in March, he gave an emotional speech about how Trump was "really going to do damage to America." In an interview, he blamed the businessman for turning "the most important election in a generation into a circus, into a complete fiasco and a carnival."
By May, however, Rubio had evolved, despite recently defending New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican Latina who has been critical of the presumptive nominee, against Trump's attacks at a rally in her state that she doesn't "do the job."
Rubio told CNN on May 25 that not only would he attend the Republican National Convention, but that he would be "honored" to be considered to speak on Trump's behalf.
"Look, my policy differences with Donald Trump, I spent 11 months talking about them. So I think they're well understood," Rubio said. "That said ... I don't want Hillary Clinton to be president. If there's something I can do to help that from happening, and it's helpful to the cause, I'd most certainly be honored to be considered for that."
This story has been updated substantially to reflect Trump's status as the presumptive nominee, and to reflect new additions and changing allegiances. Editor's Note: A previous version of the story included Ken Cuccinelli, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund. The 2013 Senate candidate said he supports Ted Cruz for president, but plans to support the Republican nominee in November.