By Jordan Barkin
On Thursday, May 12, Donald Trump met with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and other Republican leaders. The purpose of the meeting was to unify the party as it heads into the Republican National Convention in July.
In the past few presidential elections the Republican Party has been much more unified heading into the convention. The tone this election cycle has been notably crass, and some prominent Republicans have blamed Donald Trump.
Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said in March of Trump: “I’m far from the first to conclude that Donald Trump lacks the temperament to be president. After all, this is an individual who mocked a disabled reporter, who attributed a reporter’s questions to her menstrual cycle, who mocked a brilliant rival who happened to be a woman due to her appearance, who bragged about his marital affairs, and who laces his public speeches with vulgarity.”
Romney’s remarks were bolder than the straitlaced former governor’s usual pronouncements. Trump countered by saying Romney was, in essence, a sore loser.
But two Republicans who have won the presidency — George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush — have also chosen not to endorse Trump. This is a change from past election cycles, in which the Bushes readily endorsed the Republican nominees.
In February, Jeb Bush said Donald Trump “needs therapy.”
The Bushes and Romney are planning not to attend the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
John McCain, the presidential nominee in 2008, said in July 2015 of Trump: “He (owes) an apology to every single veteran who was captured and was a prisoner of war.” McCain was referring to derogatory statements Trump had made that month.
Controversy has plagued the Trump campaign from the first day. When Trump announced his candidacy at Trump Tower on June 16, he called Mexican immigrants rapists. The remark was immediately criticized by commentators and many voters.
In the same speech, Trump said of politicians on Capitol Hill: “We have losers. We have people that are morally corrupt. We have people that are selling this country down the drain.”
From the first day of his campaign to May, Trump has continued to run a tense campaign.
The May 12 Republican leadership meeting brought hope, with Trump and Ryan issuing a joint statement afterward calling it the productive first in a series of meetings to bring unity.
Absent from the statement, however, was an endorsement of Trump by Ryan.
For all of the talk during the past few years about rampant partisanship in Washington, it seems as though a diverse swath of politicians and journalists are now unified–in their hesitance to support Trump.
Jordan Barkin, a freelance writer for various Southern publications, is a former associate editor of Veranda, a Hearst magazine. He lives in Buckhead.