WASHINGTON – Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell told PJM that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has shown “imperial tendencies” like President Obama and said Trump has to work “overtime” to change that perception.
Blackwell was asked if he agreed with the calls from some conservatives for another Republican nominee at the convention given Trump’s attack on the judge in the Trump University case.
“Look, Donald Trump has to close the deal. The deal hasn’t been closed and he is the master of the art of the deal. He needs to close the deal. He needs to make sure there are some real solid principles people can depend on him enforcing, supporting and advancing and not changing like a weather band,” Blackwell told PJM at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference.
Blackwell said it is “so important” for Trump to present himself as someone who “embraces the Constitution” as well as executive restraint.
“What concerned me about his comments as they related to the judge was the fact that I think he has shown tendencies of being a quintessential strongman – like Obama has wanton disregard for the Constitution – and that concerns me. I think we have a separation of powers doctrine that has worked well to make sure that we don’t have an imperial president, and given that he has tendencies to indicate that he would be inclined to be an imperial president just like Obama I think he has to work overtime to sort of lessen those concerns,” he said.
“It is so important he comes off as a person who embraces the Constitution because he understands that it is through constitutional governance that we put a harness on the scope and reach and power of government because that optimizes individual liberty,” he added.
Blackwell recommended that Trump “let his lawyers do the lawyers’ work, and he needs to run to be the president of the United States and the leader of the free world.”
Other attendees of the “Road to Majority” conference said the Republican Party should stick with Trump at this stage of the election despite his comments about U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s Mexican heritage being of conflict in the Trump University case.
“I was for Marco so I wish he was the candidate but I don’t think realistically that will happen. I think it’s too late in the election to bring in somebody new. If one of the older candidates came back that would be amazing, but I don’t think it’s going to happen because Trump already has enough support where any other candidate wouldn’t have a chance regardless,” said a young voter from Miami at the conference.
“A lot of people label him as racist even though, I mean, [Republicans] say things that might be taken that way but that’s not how they mean them and he actually has a lot of support where I’m from. And my city is one of the most diverse in the United States and I’m Hispanic and I support him. Other people I know are Hispanic and they support him,” she added.
A retired nurse and Army veteran who worked with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson for six years said he plans to support Trump since the former Republican presidential candidate endorsed him.
“Ben Carson has both feet on the ground. He’s a solid man and he has a great wisdom and understanding not just about neurosurgery but about a lot of issues. If he’s on board, and some of the other people I know are on board, then I can support Trump. But I would give him some wisdom my grandmother gave me: don’t mouth off about everything you think is going on in your head. Let other people coach you in what to say, and I would suggest he give that some consideration,” he said.
Another young voter at the conference told PJM that Republicans have to hope for the best with Trump at this point in the election.
“We might need to rally around Trump and hope that he can unite the party a little more and hope that Trump might become a little more the ideal candidate we’re looking for,” she said.