For months, Republicans hoped, prayed, and convinced themselves that this day would never come: the day they had to take an actual, honest-to-God stance on Donald Trump’s candidacy.
Now, with Trump looking more and more like the GOP nominee, high-profile Republicans are starting to take stands, and some of them have decided to swallow their pride and endorse Trump. The first, of course, was Chris Christie, whose backing of Trump reverberated widely on Friday. Friday afternoon, Maine Governor Paul LePage, a former Christie endorser, followed the New Jersey governor’s lead.
On Sunday, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions backed Trump, too, ahead of the Yellowhammer State’s Super Tuesday primary. A Sessions-Trump alliance makes sense in many ways. Sessions is one of the hardest line members of the Senate on immigration, which is Trump’s signature issue, and an endorsement had been the subject of speculation since top Sessions aide Stephen Miller joined the Trump campaign a month ago. It’s also a blow to Ted Cruz, who has allied himself with Sessions in the Senate—one of the few colleagues he has a decent relationship with.
On the other hand, conservative Twitter lit up over the weekend with the hashtag #NeverTrump, as rank-and-file righties, pundits, and others vowed not to support the entertainment mogul even if he wins the nomination. On Sunday, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, a rising Republican star, enlisted in the Twitter movement, saying he’d back a third-party candidate over either Trump or Hillary Clinton if those are his options in a general election. Nor does he represent a small group. While these numbers are fluid and could change as the election nears, 35 percent of Republicans who don’t back Trump told CNN in a poll released Monday that they would definitely not support him as a general-election candidate. Another 13 said they probably wouldn’t.