GOP mega donor and party insider Meg Whitman is likely to support Hillary Clinton for president, according to sources who attended the closed-door Mitt Romney summit in Utah.
Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and the GOP nominee for governor of California in 2010, was Romney’s finance co-chair in 2012.
While Romney has said publicly that he will not vote for Trump, he has indicated that he wouldn’t support Hillary Clinton either.
Donors say they’ve come to the annual Romney retreat in Park City, Utah, looking for guidance from top Republicans attending the event, including Speaker Paul Ryan and Republican partychairman Reince Priebus.
“These guys are a lot smarter than I am, and if they’re endorsing [Trump], that’s kind of reassuring to me,” said Scott Keller, a donor from Utah who was at the summit and has decided to back Trump. Whitman, meanwhile, indicated she would likely vote for Clinton, but made no mention of actually donating to the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Still, some prominent Republican donors here were in shock.
“I see Meg Whitman supporting Clinton, and I’m surprised about that. I love and respect Meg Whitman but, my gosh,” said Keller.
Keller added, however, that the “right thing” to do is to go vote for someone. Keller said that’s why he’s planning to back Trump — although he was reluctant to do so initially.
Two sources in the room said Whitman also compared Trump to historical demagogues, including Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. She then turned to Ryan to ask him how he could support Trump. Ryan responded by saying he had party obligations as speaker of the House of Republicans, said the sources inside the room.
According to long-time Romney confidante, Spencer Zwick, Ryan was asked about his recent endorsement of Trump during his own speech at the summit but “said nothing new.”
“He mostly talked about his agenda,” Zwick said, adding: “I think a lot of people, they’re tired talking about Trump University. They want to talk about policy and a path forward.”
Whitman has previously gone on the record saying she wouldn’t be voting for Trump.
“Look at the comments he’s made about women, about Muslims, about reporters, it’s just repugnant,” she told CNBC in March.
According to Jim and Joanne, a couple from Southern California who declined to provide their last names, Whitman isn’t the only donor here considering Clinton. The summit attendees took an informal poll at lunch, with the room splitting evenly among Trump and Clinton supporters, they said.
Whitman is by no means a high-profile Republican, but her potential defection will not go unnoticed in party circles. The NeverTrumpers have been dancing around the consequences of their decision to not support the Republican nominee and now, Whitman’s choice to support Clinton brings it all into stark relief.
Few Republicans will be comfortable voting for Hillary Clinton, but if the NeverTrump crowd is serious, they’re going to have to. Throwing away your vote to cast a ballot for the Libertarian Party candidate is unacceptable. Either you want to stop Trump from becoming president or you don’t. And the only realistic way to stop him is to vote for Hillary Clinton.
As the horror of that reality dawns on the NeverTrump faction, perhaps a few more of them will reluctantly support Trump.