During his trip to Scotland, reporters asked Donald Trump to respond to former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson's endorsement of Hillary Clinton. "Don't know anything about him," the Republican candidate responded.
As BuzzFeed noted
, we know that's not true. During the economic crash in late 2008 ,Trump singled out Paulson for praise. "I would give him an A," Trump told CNN, lauding the Treasury Secretary's response to the crisis. Trump added at the time, "[T]he fact is, [Paulson] came into a mess. He didn't create the mess. And he is helping us get out of the mess."
The admiration is clearly not mutual. Paulson wrote a piece
for the Washington Post, published over the weekend, in which the veteran of the Bush/Cheney administration wrote, "Enough is enough. It's time to put country before party and say it together: Never Trump."
The piece reads like a stinging indictment, trashing Trump's business acumen, dishonesty, divisiveness, and temperament.
Simply put, a Trump presidency is unthinkable. As a Republican looking ahead to November, there are many strong conservative leaders in statehouses across the United States and in Congress, whose candidacies I am actively supporting. They have a big job to do to reinvent and revitalize the Republican Party. They can do so by responding to the fears and frustrations of the American people and uniting them behind some common aspirations, while staying constant to the principles that have made our country great. When it comes to the presidency, I will not vote for Donald Trump. I will not cast a write-in vote. I'll be voting for Hillary Clinton, with the hope that she can bring Americans together to do the things necessary to strengthen our economy, our environment and our place in the world. To my Republican friends: I know I'm not alone.
As striking as this is, let's not forget the degree to which Paulson's announcement is correct: he isn't
alone. A separate Washington Post piece
Paulson's backing, which he announced in a Washington Post op-ed, follows that of Richard Armitage, a former deputy secretary of state under Bush and assistant secretary of defense under Bush's father and Ronald Reagan. Armitage told Politico last week that he would also back Clinton over Trump. At the time, he was believed to be the highest-ranking former Bush official to cross over; that designation now belongs to Paulson. Other former Bush officials and top GOP foreign policy minds of the era, including Max Boot and Robert Kagan, previously made the same call. Even more have said they won't back Trump but have stopped short of endorsing Clinton.
It's true that these officials are largely unknown to most Americans, many of whom probably don't recall Paulson's tenure, and are unfamiliar with figures like Armitage and Kagan.
But there's a larger truth that's nevertheless helping shape our understanding of the 2016 campaign: for some leading Republicans, putting party over country simply isn't an option right now. Voters don't have to remember Paulson specifically to recognize the significance of this trend.