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Republican leaders dump Trump, openly and in growing numbers

world Updated: May 07, 2016 23:51 IST
Yashwant Raj

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who also ran for the nomination, said he will not vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in the November 8 polls.(AFP)

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush on Friday joined a growing band of Republican leaders who have announced they will not back their party’s presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Bush, who also ran for the nomination, said in a Facebook post: “In November, I will not vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, but I will support principled conservatives at the state and federal levels, just as I have done my entire life.”

Speaker Paul Ryan, the senior-most elected Republican in the country, said the day before that he is unable to support Trump at this time, in a stunning disavowal of the frontrunner.

Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, a leading conservative who is trying to draft a prominent political or military figure to run against Trump, tried Mitt Romney at a meeting on Friday.

Trump’s lock on the Republican nomination after the Indiana primary win has also brought into open opposition from his party leader that’s been called unparalleled in modern politics.

He has been dismissive of some of them such as Jeb Bush’s, calling him “low-energy” once again, saying he was not surprised as he has been an outspoken critic of the Bushes.

Both former presidents George HW Bush and George W Bush, who have enthusiastically supported previous party nominees, have already said they will not be supporting Trump.

But with some others like Ryan, Trump is trying find some common ground for agreement. The two are meeting next week to sort out their differences.

“I’m not there right now,” Ryan told CNN in an interview when asked if he was ready to back Trump. “And I hope to, though, and I want to. But I think what is required is that we unify the party, and I think the bulk of the burden on unifying the party will have to come from our presumptive nominee.”

Trump’s first response was to escalate the fight. He was “not ready to support Speaker Ryan’s agenda”, he said in a statement. But he now appears eager to settle the dispute.

Ryan’s statement was meant, experts and analysts say, to signal conservatives that they don’t have to rally around Trump, the party’s presumptive nominee, if they don’t want to. The New York Times said the breach between Ryan and Trump and was irreparable.

Republican senator Lindsey Graham, who ran briefly for the Republican nomination, followed up saying he will not support Trump, who, he added, had “conned” the party.