Despite their universal opposition to the growing violence taking place at rallies for GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump — violence which Trump has outright denied — all remaining Republican candidates have said they will still stand behind whoever becomes their party’s nominee. Based on current primary results and polls, it could easily be Trump.
“I continue to intend to support the Republican nominee, but it’s getting harder every day,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) at a Saturday press conference. He repeated the same apprehension Sunday morning on ABC’s This Week, but stressed: “I’m not going to change my position today about supporting the nominee because I still believe that Donald Trump will not be the nominee.”
However, at Saturday’s press conference, he quickly linked Trump to the failure of the Republican party, based on his encouragement of violence.
“The great thing about our republic is that we settle our differences at the ballot box. Not with guns, or bayonets and violence. And you wonder if we’re headed in a different direction today,” Rubio said, referring to Friday evening’s violent clashes between Trump protesters and supporters at a Trump rally in Chicago. This upset was followed by equally agressive clashes that took place in Kanas City and Cleveland Saturday evening.
“We have a front-runner in my party that has fed into language that basically justifies physically assaulting people who disagree with you,” he went on. “Donald Trump as our nominee will shatter and fracture the Republican party.”
Fellow GOP candidates Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz echoed Rubio’s concern.
“Donald Trump has created a toxic environment, a toxic environment that has allowed his supporters and those who sometimes seek confrontation to come together in violence,” Kasich said at a Saturday stop in Ohio. On Saturday night, Cruz told reporters that the “responsibility starts from the top.”
“Any candidate is responsible for the culture of the campaign,” he added.
But Sunday morning, all three candidates stuck by their pledge to support the future GOP nominee — whether or not it’s Trump.
“I said in the debate when they asked if I would support him, I said yes,” Kasich told reproter George Stephanopoulos on This Week. “But sometimes it’s really tough. I’d like, I hope, to be able to support whoever the nominee is, but I have to tell you, George, I don’t think he’s going to be the nominee.”
When asked by Meet the Press’ Chuck Todd whether he remains committed to backing Trump, if he becomes nominees, Cruz put it simply: “When I give my word for something, I follow through and do what I said.”