6 Republicans Who Called Donald Trump a Bigot — Then Agreed to Support Him Anyway
In case you hadn't noticed, Donald Trump has been saying some pretty bigoted stuff over the past year.
The presumptive GOP nominee has routinely used racist and xenophobic rhetoric to rally his conservative white support base, referring to Mexican immigrants as "rapists" and calling for an all-out ban on Muslims entering the United States, among other controversial statements.
Today, there remain few minority groups Trump hasn't vilified or demonized for his political gain. But that hasn't stopped plenty of Republican lawmakers from supporting the real estate mogul's presidential run anyway — some even after fiercely condemning him at first.
One of these lawmakers is Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Ryan has made numerous statements in the past applauding the societal contributions made by American Muslims, all while lambasting Trump's bigoted rhetoric.
"Not only are there many Muslims serving in our armed forces dying for this country, there are Muslims serving right here in the House, working every day to uphold and to defend the constitution," Ryan said in a press conference in December, criticizing Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the US.
Yet moments after meeting with members from the Fellowship of Reconciliation — an interfaith anti-violence organization — and pledging to fight against bigotry and rhetoric against Muslims and refugees last week, Speaker Ryan publicly endorsed Trump as president.
"I'll be voting for [Donald Trump] this fall," Ryan tweeted Thursday. "I'm confident he will help turn the House GOP's agenda into laws."
Ryan later doubled down on his endorsement in an op-ed published at his Wisconsin hometown local newspaper, the Janesville Gazette, on Jun 2.
"[The 2016 presidential election] is not just a choice of two people, but of two visions for America," Ryan wrote. "And House Republicans are helping shape that Republican vision by offering a bold policy agenda, by offering a better way ahead."
Ryan isn't the only Republican official who has flip-flopped on supporting Trump — demonstrating a disturbing willingness from the GOP to abandon moral principles, tolerate bigotry and accept racism for a chance at victory.
Here are seven other Republican politicians who have done the same in recent months:
1. Sen. Tim Scott
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) is the first black American to represent a Southern state in the US Senate since the Reconstruction era. He condemned Trump in a Feb. 28 statement for refusing to denounce the Ku Klux Klan, former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, and other white supremacists.
Sen. Scott said at the time:
Any candidate who cannot immediately condemn a hate group like the KKK does not represent the Republican Party, and will not unite it. If Donald Trump can't take a stand against the KKK, we cannot trust him to stand up for America against Putin, Iran or ISIS.
But Scott — who is currently running for re-election — has since changed his tune and announced his support for Trump. His campaign spokesman issued a statement in May, announcing the Senator's endorsement:
Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, the senator will do what he can to assist his campaign; however, his focus will remain on his own re-election and serving the people of South Carolina.
2. Sen. Mitch McConnell
McConnell said in a press conference on Dec. 8, 2015:
(And) to show how completely and totally unworkable it would be, King Abdullah of Jordan, a great friend and ally of ours, would presumably not be able to come to the United States. How about President Ghani of Afghanistan, a great friend and ally of ours who would not be able to come to the United States. This suggestion is completely and totally inconsistent with American values.
Unfortunately, not even a blanket ban on an entire religious group discouraged McConnell from backing Trump for the long haul. The senator has since repeatedly said he would support whoever the GOP nominee ends up being — even if it is Trump.
"I have committed to supporting the nominee chosen by Republican voters," McConnell said in a May statement, "and Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee, is now on the verge of clinching that nomination."
3. Sen. John McCain
Before stating his support, even Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) felt the wrath of Trump's schoolyard insults. At an Iowa campaign event in July, Trump criticized the Vietnam War veteran and former prisoner of war, saying he likes "people who weren't captured" and that McCain shouldn't be considered "a war hero."
In December, McCain told CNN he considered Trump's ban on Muslims "foolish."
"It's just foolishness," McCain said. "It's been a long series of statements like this that have been just foolish."
But Sen. McCain also thought it was "foolish" for the Republican Party to not back the GOP nominee, adding to other Republican voices who are increasingly setting the stage for a Trump presidency.
"You have to listen to people that have chosen the nominee of our Republican Party. I think it would be foolish to ignore them," McCain said in an CNN's State of the Union interview on May 9.
4. Rep. Peter King
In an interview with the New York Daily News in March, New York Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) suggested he would leave politics if Donald Trump were elected. (King had initially supported Marco Rubio's presidential run.)
"Maybe I'll become a reporter for the Daily News," he said. "Listen, [a Trump nomination is] not going to happen. Right now I'm just focusing on Marco Rubio becoming the nominee. I'm not going beyond that."
King also once said he would take cyanide if Sen. Ted Cruz got elected. Luckily for him, Cruz dropped out — then King ended up reluctantly endorsing Trump.
"I'm supporting the nominee of the party, but I still have real questions with him as far as national security," King said in May. "I don't think his Asian policy is coherent."
5. Sen. Rand Paul
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — who also ran for president this election cycle — once called Donald Trump "a disaster" for the Republican Party. The son of 2012 presidential candidate Ron Paul went on MSNBC's All In on Jun. 14 to criticize Trump's alienation of minorities.
"I'm in the camp of saying, yes, we need to be careful of letting the voice of the Republican party be someone who thinks that all immigrants are rapists or drug dealers," Paul said. "I think that Trump is a disaster for the Republican party."
While Paul has also said Trump will eventually tear down the GOP, he confirmed on a radio program hosted by conservative host Leland Conway in May 5 that he'd pledge his support to the Republican nominee regardless of who it is — since he believes Hillary Clinton is so much worse.
"You know, I've always said I will endorse the nominee," Paul told Conway. "I think it's almost the patriotic duty of anyone in Kentucky to oppose the Clintons, because I think they're rotten at the core, I think they're dishonest people, and ultimately I think we have to be concerned with what's best for Kentucky."
6. Sen. Marco Rubio
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whom Trump famously belittled in a GOP debate hosted by FOX News on Mar. 3 by calling him "Little Marco," told reporters he most likely won't return to politics and won't run for re-election after losing so badly to Trump.
Rubio also called Trump a "con artist" after one debate Feb. 26, and dubbed him "the most vulgar person to ever aspire to the presidency" during a Mar. 3 interview with CNN's New Day before disavowing him for refusing to condemn the KKK.
"He refused to criticize the Ku Klux Klan," Rubio said. "He's now been given three interviews. ... He refuses to criticize it. How are we going to elect — how can someone like that be our nominee?"
But in a May 26 interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Rubio flip-flopped on his position. He said he'd support Trump, ultimately, because he didn't want Hillary Clinton to win the presidency:
"I want to be helpful," Rubio explained. "I don't want to be harmful, because I don't want Hillary Clinton to be president."
Meanwhile, Trump's rise in GOP politics over the past year has been staggering.
The man who once claimed he "loves the Muslims" has since proposed a "temporary ban" on all Muslims entering the US, supported the idea of a database to track Muslim Americans and proliferated a myth about American soldiers dipping bullets in pig's blood to kill Muslims during World War I.
Today, Trump's supporters regularly taunt and harass Jewish Americans online, using photos of World War II-era concentration camps and even an (((echo))) chrome extension "compiling and exposing the identities of Jews and others who are perceived as 'anti-white.'". They attack and beat Latino and #BlackLivesMatter protestors at Trump's rallies with regularity, often with the real estate mogul's full support.
Yet the lawmakers listed above — among others in the GOP — remain willing to walk back on their righteous condemnations of this man, all for the sake of partisanship and political victory.