The crisis within the Republican Party over Donald Trump’s White House run has now reached existential heights as one of its wealthiest and most influential donors is thinking of sitting out this election.
In an interview with Jonathan Karl that aired Sunday on ABC’s This Week, longtime conservative kingmaker and mega-rich corporatist Charles Koch expressed his disappointment in the GOP primary race so far. Not only is he less than thrilled that Trump is the presumptive nominee, but he doesn’t seem too fond of the idea of Ted Cruz being the alternative.
While it was reported last year that the Koch Brothers and some of their billionaire buddies were expected to spend $900 million during this election, Charles told Karl that he may not get involved at all if he doesn’t like the candidate.
KARL: But I’m sure you’ve been asked to contribute to the Never Trump movement.
KOCH: We have.
KARL: And why not get involved in that? I mean here’s a guy –
KOCH: Because that’s not what we do. What we’re trying to do is build alliances to make the country better. Like we have one with the White House on criminal justice reform. You do it by trying to find areas where you can work with everybody.
KARL: So are gonna sit out this presidential election?
KOCH: Well, we’ll see. I mean, when we get a nominee then we’ll explore that. And we don’t want arm waving. We want to know specifics.
Ooof. But, it got even worse for the GOP. After slamming Trump for his Muslim ban and Cruz for wanting to carpet bomb Syria, Koch then compared the presidential terms of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. In his opinion, one could make the case that Bill’s tenure was better for America as there was less government spending, debt creation and we didn’t get involved in two overseas wars.
Karl then followed up by asking Koch if he thought it was possible that Hillary Clinton would be a better president than a Republican candidate.
KARL: So is it possible another Clinton could be better than another Republican–
KOCH: It’s possible.
KARL: Next time around?
KOCH: It’s possible.
KARL: You couldn’t see yourself supporting Hillary Clinton, could you?
KOCH: Well, I– that– her– we would have to believe her actions would be quite different than her rhetoric. Let me put it that way. But on some of the Republican candidates we would– before we could support them, we’d have to believe their actions will be quite different than the rhetoric we’ve heard so far.
Sure, that isn’t an implicit endorsement of Hillary. But he sure doesn’t seem enthused by Cruz or Trump. And he could effectively endorse Clinton by simply staying on the sidelines this fall. By refusing to write checks to conservative Super PACs, the RNC and campaigns, while also not holding fundraisers, the Koch Brothers would be sending a clear message that they’d prefer Clinton to win in November.
It will be interesting to see what the RNC’s ‘autopsy’ report will look like in 2017.