Former Gov. Whitman: Trump is Dividing Republican Party

By Erin Delmore

“When I’m elected, I will suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the U.S., Europe or our allies,” said Donald Trump.

Trump took a hard line against Muslim immigrants after a radicalized jihadist committed the worst mass shooting in American history. While his policy proposal was cheered in New Hampshire Monday, he was pilloried for this weekend tweet: “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.”

“I think some of the things he’s been doing and saying, especially after Orlando attacks, don’t sit that well with New Jersey Republicans or any New Jerseyans, frankly,” said former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman.

Whitman — a fellow Republican — told NJTV News Trump is widening the divide in her party.

“Oh I talk to a lot of Republicans who say, you know, I cannot support him, I will not support him,” she said.

Just last week, Hackensack Mayor John Labrosse and Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino renounced their affiliation with the Republican Party. Now, they’re Independents, alienated by Trump’s rhetoric.

“There’s not one particular remark or another that made me think about changing my affiliation. It was kind of the fact that there was more than one. And that was disturbing,” Canestrino said.

“You know, it makes it very hard for local officials who are Republicans to function when he’s out there saying things like that,” Labrosse said.

The two filed change of party registration forms shortly after Trump made controversial comments about a judge overseeing the Trump University case, implying the judge’s ethnicity precluded him from being impartial.

More than a third of Hackensack residents are Hispanic.

Labrosse and Canestrino join a growing number of Republicans who are distancing themselves from their party’s best chance at retaking the White House.

“Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment,” said U.S. House of Representative Speaker Paul Ryan on June 7.

Condemnation from Ryan, the highest-ranking elected Republican in the county.

From U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell: “It’s time to quit attacking various people that you competed with or various minority groups in the country and get on message.” Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney told The Wall Street Journal Trump’s actions and words “revealed a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world”.

The Republican Party chair in Bergen County, Bob Yudin, hammered Trump — then a long-shot — at an NJTV News debate watch party in September.

“Trump is being peeled away. He’s showing that he’s bordering on a buffoon,” Yudin said then.

Whitman urged New Jersey Republicans to cast a “protest vote” for Gov. John Kasich or Sen. Ted Cruz in the June 7 primary. Though each had already suspended his campaign, they carried around 13 and 6 percent of the vote, respectively. She said New Jerseyans are facing a Hobson’s choice in November.

“I don’t think a write-in is a waste, because if there are enough people write in and you deny the two candidates the 270 electoral votes that they need to be elected president, then it goes to the House and I think we’d get a much more sensible nominee or president-elect out of the House,” Whitman said.

We spoke with a number of New Jersey Republicans who said they’re not supporting Trump but won’t publicly voice that opinion until after the election. Most said it’s getting too late to unite behind a different candidate but not that they wouldn’t want to.