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After Watching First Debate, How Can GOP Senate Candidates Still Support Donald Trump?

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Washington, DC – In the wake of last night’s first presidential debate, during which Donald Trump managed to appear unhinged, unqualified, unprepared, and unpresidential, Senate Republican candidates endorsing Trump should be asked one simple question: what the hell are you thinking?

Earlier this fall, CNN’s Manu Raju asked Senator Joe Heck (NV), “You trust him [Trump] to have his finger on the nuclear button?” To which Heck responded, “I do…why wouldn’t I?” Well, Rep. Heck, Trump’s debate performance last night is a pretty good place to start.

As Senator Marco Rubio (FL) said last year of Trump – before later endorsing him – Trump is a “con man” too dangerous to be given access to the nation’s nuclear codes. Last night was a 90-minute testament to the fact that Senator Rubio’s initial characterization of Trump was on the mark. Nevertheless, Rubio and other Republican Senators running in swing states, like Rob Portman (OH), Ron Johnson (WI), and Senator Burr (NC), now trust Trump to occupy the powerful office in the world.

Among the many Trump low-lights from last night’s proceedings and their aftermath: Trump said his multi-year, race-baiting birther crusade against the nation’s first African-American president was a good thing, because it forced President Obama to release his birth certificate; Trump provided patently false and transparently ridiculous excuses as to why he hasn’t publicly released his tax returns (as well as a litany of other “pants on fire” lies); and, while appearing on “Fox and Friends” this morning, Trump defended his cruel, misogynistic and racist attacks on former Miss Universe Alicia Machado by saying, “She gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “After last night’s unhinged debate performance, the Senate Republican candidates backing Donald Trump and vouching for his fitness to be president need to justify whether and why their support still stands. At a minimum, more voters in these battleground states need to know that their state’s Senate GOP candidate backs this dangerous demagogue for the nation’s highest office.”

For example, in Florida, a recent Monmouth Poll found that nearly two-thirds of Florida voters did not know that Rubio backs Trump. The recent round of Latino Decisions polling of Latino voters in key battleground states asked Latino voters whether knowing that the GOP Senate candidate backed Trump made them more or less likely to vote for that down-ballot candidate. In Arizona, 71% of Latino voters would be less likely to vote for John McCain if they knew he backed Trump; in Colorado, 74% of Latino voters would be less likely to vote for Darryl Glenn; In Florida, 58% of Latino voters would be less likely to vote for Marco Rubio; In Nevada, 68% of Latino voters would be less likely to vote for Joe Heck; in North Carolina, 74% of Latino voters would be less likely to vote for Richard Burr; and in Ohio, 66% of Latino voters would be less likely to vote for Rob Portman.

Added Sharry, “That candidates for the U.S. Senate could back an unqualified and temperamentally unfit Donald Trump for president calls into question their own fitness and judgment for statewide office.”

Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice on Twitter: @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice

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