Lynn Tramonte: “Ohioans are looking for leaders, not lemmings, and Rob Portman is failing the test”
When Donald Trump proposed a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” he was denounced by many within the Republican Party. But most of those critical of Trump’s remarks still plan to vote for him if he becomes the Republican Party nominee—including our own U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R).
The headline and beginning of a Huffington Post piece entitled “There’s Nothing Donald Trump Can Say About GOP Leaders To Make Them Reject Him” says it all: “Not a single Republican politician has come out and endorsed Donald Trump’s call to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. They have called his plan ‘unconstitutional‘ and ‘foolishness‘ and done their best to distance themselves from it. They still, however, plan to support him for president should he make it that far.”
Senator Rob Portman was one of the examples given by the Huffington Post:
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said Trump’s proposal runs “counter to our traditions, but also counter to the religious liberties that are guaranteed under the Constitution.” He wouldn’t rule out supporting Trump either, exactly, but said it’s too soon to say he’ll be the nominee.
“I’ve said the same thing from the very start, which is I intend to support the Republican nominee,” Portman said. “I think my further comment was ‘unless something crazy happens,’ and that’s continuously my position. Look, guys, it’s so early. … I don’t expect him to be the nominee.”
“If Senator Rob Portman thinks Donald Trump’s proposal runs ‘counter to our traditions’ and ‘counter to the Constitution’, he should denounce Trump’s candidacy. It’s that simple. Instead he’s putting Party over country, and trying to change the subject,” said Lynn Tramonte, Director of Ohio’s Voice. “Portman says he’ll support whoever the Republicans nominate for President—including Trump—‘unless something crazy happens.’ Trump’s proposal to implement a religious test before anyone can be admitted into the United States and block an entire religious group is radical and un-American. It also provides unnecessary fuel for our nation’s enemies. And that’s still not ‘crazy’ enough for Rob Portman? I shudder to think what Trump would have to do to disqualify himself in Portman’s eyes.”
Ironically, analysis from the New York Times’ Jonathan Martin, highlighted by Henry Gomez in his Ohio Politics Roundup, shows that Portman himself has quite a lot to lose if Donald Trump ends up headlining the GOP ticket. Portman is up for re-election in 2016 and while Trump is currently the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, he is also the most polarizing candidate the party could nominate for the general election. Martin and Gomez’s pieces quote Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges on the impact a Trump nomination would have on Ohio Republicans down the ballot: “If [Trump] carries this message into the general election in Ohio, we’ll hand this election to [Democratic hopeful] Hillary Clinton – and then try to salvage the rest of the ticket.” Martin also quotes Brian Walsh, a Republican strategist and former Senate staffer, who says: “Portman is a great example I like to use when talking about this. He’s very well prepared, has tons of cash in the bank, and he got his campaign organized and up and running early. But if we nominate a bad presidential candidate like Trump, senators like Portman or Kelly Ayotte [of New Hampshire] aren’t going to be able to outrun Hillary by that much. And there goes the Senate.”
Meanwhile, at least one of Portman’s Democratic challengers, P.G. Sittenfeld, is seizing the opportunity to hit Portman for refusing to reject Trump as an option. In a video, Sittenfeld says: “This isn’t funny or entertaining anymore. Donald Trump has gone from being a buffoonish carnival barker to something darker and far more dangerous…. [I] want to call on Ohio Senator Rob Portman to renounce the pledge he made on Sept. 14 to support Donald Trump should he win the party nomination…. Donald Trump is not fit to be President of the United States — and Rob Portman needs to have the guts to say so.”
“Ohioans are looking for leaders, not lemmings, and Rob Portman is failing the test. His words against Donald Trump ring hollow if he’d still support this man as the Republican Party’s nominee,” said Tramonte.
Ohio’s Voice is a project of America’s Voice.