Republicans Joe Heck and Cresent Hardy are among those who ditched Donald Trump for president. Will the voting public see through them?
A recording emerged of Trump, in 2005, explaining he cannot resist kissing women and grabbing their private parts, and tried to have sex with a married woman other than his wife. It wasn’t the kind of banter that men and, yes, women sometimes engage in. He was describing sexual assault.
For connoisseurs of hypocrisy, Republican reactions have been golden. When Trump referred to Mexicans as rapists, wanted Muslims banned from entering the country, and suggested Sen. Ted Cruz’s father participated in John Kennedy’s assassination, murmurs of displeasure and occasional low-volume outrage followed. The lack of ethics and possible illegality of actions by his university, foundation and company? So what?
Ah, but referring to a woman’s private parts and trying to commit adultery—which his surrogates Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich succeeded in doing—are beyond the pale.
It was for Gov. Brian Sandoval, who said he won’t “support” Trump because “the video exposed not just words, but now an established pattern.” Now?
Sen. Dean Heller said he’s “100 percent against Clinton, 99 percent against Trump.” That seems appropriate since he claims to be bipartisan and is—1 percent of the time. A wise Democrat wondered what Republicans like Heller think of continuing to block hearings on Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination so they can save the seat for their candidate. As for Trump’s willingness to jail political opponents, no biggie.
Heck hopes to have a vote on such issues in the Senate. His statement began with a reference to serving in the military, which he mentions when you ask him what time it is, and to being a husband and father of daughters and son of a mother (his son, who referred to Barack Obama as “spearchucking,” is another issue). He says, “I accept that none of us are perfect. However, I can no longer look past this pattern of behavior and inappropriate comments from Donald Trump. Therefore, I cannot, in good conscience, continue to support him nor can I vote for Hillary Clinton.” He also says, “We deserve a candidate who can ask him or herself at the end of the day, ‘Did I live my life with honor and do I deserve to be elected president of the United States?’”
If Trump—or Richard Nixon or Franklin Pierce—asked himself that question, the answer would be yes. All of us can look past our faults; some are just better at it than others, such as the Trump supporters who booed Heck and others who bailed on their one-time favorite.
But as one of the gazillion ads in his race against Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto shows, Heck saw no reason not to trust Trump with nuclear codes … until he mentioned “pussy.” Until then, Trump was perfectly fine.
Cortez Masto responded that Heck is “trying to save his career.” There’s a lot of that going around. Hardy, in a tough race against Ruben Kihuen in a Democratic-leaning district, said he won’t support Trump, either.
Irony abounds. Hardy, like Heller, is Mormon. LDS church members have been critical of a candidate who proposes to target people for their religion, a feeling Mormons have known all too well in their history. Mormons also have a long history of reaching out to Hispanic people, which would be worth discussing further if not for the fear of being accused of whipping out that Mexican thing. Two months ago, Hardy said he would “do whatever [Trump] wants me to do to help him get elected.” So much has changed since.
More ironically, Trump made his comments to a relative of George W. Bush, whose secretary of state, Colin Powell, warned about involvement in Iraq: If you break it, you own it. Nevada Republicans helped break their party, leading to Trump. Now they own him. For the country’s sake, they should keep him … far away from women, yes, but also from everybody else.
So, these Republicans say they won’t vote for Trump or Clinton. The voting booth is private. Perhaps Nevadans will ponder the illogic of voting for a presidential candidate from one party and representatives and a senator from another party who will try to block everything their presidential choice wants to accomplish—or for a candidate who didn’t have the decency and wisdom to see through him in the first place. E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post put it best: “What is truly shocking is that Donald Trump’s Republican enablers are shocked.”
Michael Green is an associate professor of history at UNLV.