Some of the right’s most prominent conservatives are getting Ready for Hillary.
Donald Trump is now the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee, as Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus tweeted tonight.
And the conservative activists who adamantly oppose him are now in the process of making peace with backing the Democrats’ eventual nominee. Because there’s one person they fear and loathe more than Hillary—and they say they won’t blink.
Leon Wolf, the editor of the conservative site RedState.com, told The Daily Beast shortly after Cruz dropped out that he’s considering a Clinton vote.
“If it’s a competitive election, I probably will be compelled to vote for Hillary,” he said.
“Hillary is ideologically not where I am,” he continued, adding that he thinks she did a poor job heading the State Department. “But I do feel pretty confident that she would actually be a better president than Trump. I wouldn’t go to bed every night worrying about a mushroom cloud opening up somewhere in the world because of some insane thing Trump had done.”
Ben Howe, a RedState contributing editor and prominent conservative activist, said he will work to stop Trump from winning the general election—and that he realizes this means he’ll be helping Hillary.
“If it came down to it and I knew that my vote might make a difference, or that Hillary might be able to defeat him in my precinct, then yes, I’d pull the lever,” he said. “Either way, I have to make peace with helping her by default. Pulling the lever would basically be a technicality.
“I said I’m Never Trump,” he added. “I am.”
Glenn Beck, a proxy religious zealot who feverishly backed Cruz to the point where he was fasting on his behalf recently, was also disappointed with the available general-election options. Jonathan Schreiber, a representative for Beck, told The Daily Beast “NO WAY!” when asked if Beck would consider voting for Clinton over Trump. When pressed as to whether Beck would resign himself to backing the presumptive Republican nominee, Schreiber wrote “#nevertrump.”
Similarly, Dan McLaughlin, an editor at RedState.com and a stalwart against Trump, told The Daily Beast that the options were grim.
“I will not vote for either Hillary or Trump, ever,” he wrote in an email. “I will stay in the GOP to fight for its soul until a viable alternative emerges.”
He added that he would submit a “third-party protest vote” and vote “down-ticket Republican” in the general election.
The RedStaters aren’t anomalies. A recent Morning Consult poll of Cruz supporters indicates that 13 percent of the Republicans who back him will vote for Clinton, and that upward of one-quarter of them aren’t sure who to back.
Freshman Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, reiterated his opposition to Trump without going so far as endorsing Hillary.
“Reporters keep asking if Indiana changes anything for me,” he tweeted. “The answer is simple: No.”
He then linked to a Facebook post he wrote about his opposition to Trump.
And Kevin Madden, a senior adviser for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, said he has no plans to back the Republican Party’s next nominee.
“This is a time for regrouping and prioritizing,” he said, noting that he won’t de-register as a Republican. “My attention, and I hope that of other Republicans, will be focused on helping leaders in the party focus on ideas and the big challenges that still remain. Leaders like Paul Ryan and Ben Sasse and Kelly Ayotte.
“And on voting for Trump: Absolutely not,” he added.
Erick Erickson, a conservative talk-radio host and founder of RedState, told The Daily Beast shortly after Cruz dropped out that he will de-register as a Republican if and when Trump is officially nominated.
“If Trump is the Republican Party nominee, I won’t be a Republican,” he said. “I’m not down with white supremacists.”
He added that Trump’s nomination will brand the GOP as the party of white supremacists.
“You’ve got Klan members, David Duke, the Aryan Nation supporting Donald Trump,” he said. “If the Republican Party is willing to go along with that, then I think it’s fair branding, I think it’s very fair. If Republicans aren’t going to stand up to having their party hijacked by a group of Aryan Nation-types, then they get what they deserve.”
Mark Salter, a former speechwriter for Sen. John McCain, was even less coy.
“The GOP is going to nominate for President a guy who reads the National Enquirer and thinks it’s on the level,” he tweeted. “I’m with her.”
—with additional reporting by Gideon Resnick.