Roundup of recent TNGOP turmoil over Trump

Since Gov. Bill Haslam said last Sunday that he won’t vote for Donald Trump and the state Republican Party subsequently issued a statement saying Tennesseans should “vote their conscience,” there’s been a substantial amount of Tennessee reaction – much of it negative from Republicans.

A sampler:

First, there’s this clarifying (?) statement sent from TNGOP:

“Feelings are strong in this election and interest is high. The focus of the Tennessee Republican Party remains on advancing the conservative cause in our state over the remaining 30 days.  At the same time, the media spotlight has revealed major flaws in both candidates. There is justifiable concern about the repugnant words of one and the appalling record of deception of the other. Every voter has a choice to make. At the end of the day, everyone should follow their convictions and no one should be criticized for doing so.”

Rebecca Ann Burke, a state Republican executive committee member, tells WTVF-TV  that the “vote your conscience” line was used by Ted Cruz at the GOP National Convention and the Texas senator was booed by delegates who saw it as a non-endorsement of Trump (Cruze later endorsed). She objects to use now when the party should unite behind its nominee.

–The Tennessean’s Joel Ebert has a roundup story on the TNGOP infighting. Here are a couple of excerpted quotes:

“If she wants me to do cartwheels holding a Trump sign, I can absolutely to that.” State GOP Chairman Ryan Haynes, responding to questions on Burke’s criticism while contending the state party does support “our nominee.”

“We have a bunch of spineless jellyfish at times who won’t reach out and support their nominee.” Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, referring to the TNGOP statements and Haslam.

–Michael Collins has a report on Tennessee Trump supporters defending the nominee despite criticism of his lewd comments caught on video and other criticism. Some excerpted quotes:

“We understand this is an October surprise to take down Mr. Trump’s campaign… “But we will rebel. We will fight. And we will support Mr. Trump even more.” Charlotte Bergman of Germantown, who was a Tennessee Trump delegate.

State Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, said Trump’s remarks about women won’t hurt him with voters. “Everybody knows he likes pretty women,” Niceley said. “Who doesn’t?”

Niceley said he’s heard a lot worse than what Trump said on the video. “When you’ve got these high-schoolers out there sexting themselves all over the place, with them, what he says is nothing,” he said.

–State Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, who chaired the Tennessee delegation to the national GOP convention, as reported by WTVF:

“We’ve all messed up at one time or another… He apologized.  What more can we ask?  The Bible tells us we need to forgive, and he’s asked forgiveness from the American people… He’s Republican, he’s conservative. Who [else] are they going to vote for? … Or are they going to do a write-in and hand it to Hillary Clinton?”

–Kent Harris, a member of the state GOP executive committee from Northeast Tennessee, as quoted by WJHL-TV:

“I think if the Republican Party would be supportive of Trump like they have other nominees, who a lot of us didn’t agree with, who said things and done things we didn’t agree with but we supported them, I think he’d win by a landslide.

And The Tennessee Journal has provided a thorough review of Haslam’s stance — “the riskiest comment of his political career” — in the current issue.

Note: See also previous post on Don Sundquist, kinda politely and indirectly criticizing Haslam, HERE.

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