Republican Party at odds over Donald Trump
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Donald Trump took another big step toward winning the Republican nomination Tuesday, but there are dark storm clouds on the horizon for the GOP frontrunner.
A growing group of Republicans are declaring publicly that they will never support Trump, even if he wins their party's nomination.
The final straw for some Republicans came last Sunday. An interviewer asked Trump about hate groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, which has praised him. He shockingly declined to respond, but did already disavow David Duke on Friday. And then on Monday, Trump did repudiate the Ku Klux Klan.
But an exasperated House Speaker Paul Ryan was still doing damage control Tuesday.
“If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry. This party does not prey on peoples' prejudices. We appeal to their highest ideals. This is the party of Lincoln. We believe all people are created equal in the eyes of God and our Government,” Ryan said.
Ryan said he plans to support the Republican nominee, no matter who it is. Indeed, as House Speaker, Ryan will preside at the party's presidential convention in Cleveland this summer.
Other Republicans say if it is Trump, they're ready to leave the GOP. Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse posted an open letter to Trump supporters, declaring, "I'm as frustrated and saddened as you are about what's happening to our country. But I cannot support Donald Trump."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly told Republican moderates such as Illinois' Mark Kirk that if Trump's the nominee, they should "drop him like a hot rock" and even run ads against Trump.
If that happens this fall, some foresee the factions within the Republican Party splitting apart permanently. The former Republican mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, has reportedly been exploring running in the fall as an independent or third party candidate.
Celebrating his Super Tuesday victories Tuesday night, Trump insisted he's building a bigger and stronger Republican Party.
“I know people may find that a little bit hard to believe. I am a unifier. Once we get all of this finished, I'm going to go after one person: Hillary Clinton, assuming she is allowed to run,” Trump said.