POLITICS

GOP Senate Hopeful Not Ready To Back Donald Trump Yet

"I don't know what Donald Trump is going to be standing for in November."

Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.), who is running for Florida's open Senate seat, said Sunday that he's not sure whether he would support GOP front-runner Donald Trump in the general election.

The congressman was asked whom he would support in the presidential race during a radio interview with AM970 The Answer, which BuzzFeed later highlighted.

"I truly don't know," Jolly said. "If you're asking me in April my position on Donald Trump in November, I don't know what Donald Trump is going to be standing for in November. And so I'm certainly not going to take a position five or six months out."

Jolly is one of several Republicans running to replace Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who launched his bid for the presidency instead of seeking re-election in the Senate. (Rubio dropped out of the presidential nominating contest in March.) 

During the radio interview, Jolly said he had "strong reservations" over Trump's national security proposals, but also disagrees with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on foreign policy. He said he would spend the summer "studying the candidates" to decide "who's best for the country." 

"I'm a Republican, and I hope we can find a conservative leader that can alter some of the course where our current president has taken us," Jolly continued. "But whether Donald Trump is that person, I am no way prepared to make that decision in April." 

Jolly's campaign manager later clarified to BuzzFeed that the congressman does not support Clinton.

The Senate hopeful has previously criticized Trump's policies and rhetoric. After Trump called for banning Muslims from traveling to the U.S. in December 2015, Jolly urged him to drop out of the 2016 race.

“While ISIS is beheading innocent people for their religious practices, Trump is betraying our freedoms," Jolly said. “His brutal, bullying bigotry runs contrary to the very principles our forefathers fought so hard to defend." 

Jolly's tune had changed by March, when he said he was open to voting for Trump despite "grave reservations about many of his positions."

"Somebody's going to win this fair and square," Jolly said at a GOP dinner in St. Petersburg, Florida. "And if it is Donald Trump, then I'll look at Donald Trump's platform and figure out what I'm going to personally do, going forward."

Jolly, a former lobbyist, was first elected in a March 2014 special election to replace longtime Rep. C.W. Bill Young, who had died in office the previous year. He is currently battling the National Republican Congressional Committee over a "60 Minutes" segment highlighting a bill he introduced that would bar lawmakers from personally requesting campaign donations. The NRCC is disputing some of the claims Jolly made in the episode and is criticizing the show for using hidden cameras to film the committee's operations. 

Florida's Senate primary is set for Aug. 30. 

Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.

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