POLITICS

Republican Senator Endorses Trump, Unendorses Trump, Then Becomes Undecided Voter

Sen. Mike Crapo is one of several Republican lawmakers facing backlash for his decision to abandon Trump.
Republicans are tying themselves in knots trying to decide whether to support Donald Trump.
Republicans are tying themselves in knots trying to decide whether to support Donald Trump.

Maybe Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) should have taken part in the town hall debate for undecided voters last week.

The Republican senator, who’s seeking re-election to a fourth term, originally endorsed Donald Trump for president, despite the firebrand’s long history of offensive statements and dubious record as a conservative. In May, Crapo said, “Donald Trump is now the presumptive Republican nominee and I will support his nomination.”

Then, after a 2005 “Access Hollywood” video in which Trump bragged about sexual assault surfaced last week, Crapo seemed to rescind his endorsement. Trump’s “disrespectful, profane and demeaning” comments, Crapo declared, should make him ineligible for the highest office in the land.

But now Crapo appears to be experiencing a recent political phenomenon that might be called unendorser’s remorse.

Like other vulnerable Republicans who abandoned their nominee a month out from the election, Crapo is taking some serious heat back home from GOP voters and party officials. Idaho County Republicans went so far as to say they wouldn’t be putting up lawn signs for Crapo anymore. 

So in a televised debate on Friday night with his opponent, Democrat Jerry Sturgill, Crapo seemed to walk back his unendorsement of the Republican standard-bearer.

Asked how he plans to vote on Nov. 8, Crapo suggested that casting a ballot for Trump was still a possibility, according to the Spokesman-Review. “I haven’t decided yet,” the senator said. He went on to say that he would certainly not vote for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. (There are eight choices on Idaho’s presidential ballot, according to Ballotpedia.)

“Frankly, I believe the country is conflicted over this, because we have choices that are frankly disappointing to the country,” Crapo said. “And I’m facing that kind of decision myself.”

So you can put a sitting U.S. senator in that small sliver of Americans who, after more than a year of presidential campaigning, still needs to hear more about the candidates before making a decision.  

Crapo isn’t the only Republican squirming over his defection from the Trump train. Several lawmakers who called for Trump to step down from the ticket after hearing the ”Access Hollywood” tape later said they would still vote for him. Some of them tried to argue that they had never really rescinded their endorsements.

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) all signaled that they believed Trump should step aside after his hot-mic remarks became public. But in the days that followed, they all confirmed that they would still support a Republican ticket with Trump as the headliner.

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.

Correction: This post originally excluded some of the choices on Idaho’s presidential ballot. The full list can be viewed here.

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