This is not your grandmas Republican Party, or your grandpas, or your second cousin twice removed’s GOP.
To say that the party has evolved under Donald Trump is stating the obvious. Those who have followed Trump have had no problems adapting to the new reality.
But for many old-line, “rock-ribbed Republicans,” Donald Trump has proven to be a bridge too far.
But that doesn’t mean Biden will automatically get their votes. There will be many who will stay home rather than vote to give AOC, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren the reins of power.
It is said that former President Bush will not support Trump for re-election. The story, appearing in the New York Times, quotes sources close to the former president saying that he won’t support Trump in November and that his brother Jeb isn’t sure. The Bush camp is denying the story with a spokesman for the former president saying he “would steer clear of speaking publicly on his presidential vote and called The New York Times assertion false.”
Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Secretary of State Colin Powell showed no such reticence on CNN, saying “I cannot in any way support President Trump this year.” Powell did not vote for the Republican president in 2016.
And whither the other old GOP hand, Mitt Romney?
The New York Times, citing “people familiar with their thinking”, reported that Bush won’t support Trump’s reelection, and former Trump 2016 rival Jeb Bush isn’t sure how he will vote. Meanwhile, Romney will not vote for Trump, and is considering once again writing in his wife, Ann, or casting another ballot, the Times reported.
There is no love lost between the president and Mitt Romney.
Meanwhile, Romney was the only Republican senator who voted to impeach Trump on one of the two articles of impeachment — abuse of power. Romney has criticized Trump on a number of occasions in recent years.
A sign of how low the relations between Trump and Romney are came earlier this year when Trump was informed that Romney was in self-isolation because of possible exposure to the coronavirus.
“Gee, that’s too bad, Trump said, although he denied moments later he was being sarcastic.
As for Powell, when informed of Powell’s decision to back Biden, Trump called him “a real stiff.”
“Colin Powell, a real stiff who was very responsible for getting us into the disastrous Middle East Wars, just announced he will be voting for another stiff, Sleepy Joe Biden. Didn’t Powell say that Iraq had ‘weapons of mass destruction?’ They didn’t, but off we went to WAR!,” Trump wrote on Twitter shortly after Powell appeared on CNN.
Powell, who is the first African-American to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state, joined with other former military leaders who criticized the president’s comments about using US troops to stop unrest following the death of George Floyd.
If the presidential contest became a battle of who was the better name-caller, Trump would win in a landslide.
The effect of these defections — if you want to refer to them like that since they weren’t ever “supporters” anyway — will be cumulative. Trump doesn’t need these people to get re-elected, or govern for that matter. But if presidential politics is 75 percent perception and 25 percent substance, the perception of the president bleeding support over a period of time will be unavoidable.