As Donald Trump tried to reset his campaign with a disciplined, on-message speech about his economic plan on Monday, more Republicans came out against him, including another senator.
“I will not be voting for Donald Trump for president,” Susan Collins, Senator from Maine, wrote in The Washington Post, listing his spat with Khizr and Ghazala Khan among her reasons.
Collins joined a growing list of Republican lawmakers and leaders not voting or supporting their party’s nominee, including former presidents George H W Bush and George W Bush.
The same day, 50 Republican national security officials said in a statement that Trump “would be a dangerous president and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being”.
The Republican nominee had not responded to Collins, but dismissed the national security officials as those who should be blamed for “making the world such a dangerous place”.
Signatories of the joint statement included George W Bush’s homeland security secretary Tom Ridge, former director of National Intelligence John Negroponte and former CIA director Michael Hayden.
Also on Monday, Evan McMullin, a former CIA spy and policy director to the House Republican Conference, launched his presidential run backed by #NeverTrump members of the party.
Trump, who trails his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by widening margins in polls, was expected to put behind a bad week — marked by a spat with the Khans, among other things — with his economy speech.
Republican party leaders, who are still supporting him, wanted to see if he could stay on message — laying down his policy and hammering Clinton — without setting off side-fights.
Reading from a teleprompter for a change, the Republican nominee laid out his economic plan — broadly tax reforms, no trade deals harmful to the US and fewer regulations.
“Americanism, not globalism, will be our new credo,” Trump said in a speech marked by applause and interrupted by protestors 14 times, according to one count.
Within an hour or so of the speech came the joint statement by the national security officials, all from Republican-led administrations. And they called the nominee “dangerous”.
Senator Collins followed up with a crushing denunciation of the nominee in an opinion piece on “Why I cannot support Trump”, posted online by the Post late on Monday evening.
“My conclusion about Mr Trump’s unsuitability for office is based on his disregard for the precept of treating others with respect, an idea that should transcend politics,” she wrote.
Collins based her conclusion on three incidents. One, he mocked a New York Times reporter with physical disabilities who had disputed Trump’s account of Muslims cheering the 9/11 attacks.
Two, he accused a federal judge overseeing the cases of fraud against the now-defunct Trump University of bias because he was of Mexican heritage.
Three, the attack on the Khans, the parents of a soldier killed in Iraq. “Rather than honouring their sacrifice and recognising their pain, Mr Trump disparaged the religion of the family of an American hero.”
Collins has not said who she will vote for. Other Republican lawmakers not voting for Trump include Lindsey Graham, Mark Kirk, Ben Sasse, Richard Hanna and Adam Kinzinger.