Gordon Humphrey backed John Kasich but won't vote for Donald Trump
Kasich himself has refused to endorse or say he will vote for Trump
Tucked away in the bookshelves of Gordon Humphrey’s office are mementos from the failed presidential campaign for a candidate he calls “the only adult in the room.”
The former US senator was a delegate for Ohio Gov. John Kasich and never came around to Donald Trump – actively fighting to stop Trump’s nomination as the party’s presidential nominee at the Republican National Convention this summer.
Now Humphrey says he will leave the Republican Party if Trump wins, and is grappling with the fact that he may vote for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton next month.
“I never in my wildest nightmare thought that I might vote for Hillary Clinton, but in my wildest nightmare, I never imagined anyone as creepy as Donald Trump,” Humphrey told CNN from his home in Chichester, New Hampshire.
It’s a feeling echoed by many voters across the country, frustrated by a choice between two candidates with record-low favorability ratings.
The 76-year-old New Hampshire conservative still believes Kasich would have made a “wonderful” president and was wistful as he sifted through old Kasich pamphlets.
Humphrey reflected on how well he got to know Kasich on the campaign trail, better than any other presidential candidates he’d campaigned with before, including Ronald Reagan.
Kasich spokesman Chris Schrimpf told CNN it is “impossible to describe the work and passion Senator Humphrey gave to the campaign.”
“We would be driving through a town in the bus and it would be dark and snowing, we would look out the window and see Senator Humphrey in our headlights on the side of the road putting up yard signs. No job was too big or too small for the senator,” Schrimpf told CNN. “Through all his work, Sen. Humphrey never asked for anything in return. I believe many of the young staff were inspired and humbled by Senator Humphrey. Here was a two-term US senator willing to do anything for Gov. Kasich and wanting nothing.”
Humphrey dedicated himself to Kasich’s campaign even after his home state’s primary, where Kasich got a surprise second place, briefly boosting his prospects.
For Humphrey, he was then on to Ohio – the only primary state that Kasich won outright – and then California, which is where he was texting back and forth with Kasich’s senior advisers, arguing against dropping out.
With the primary now long over, Kasich himself has refused to endorse or say he will vote for Trump, though he has not gone as far as Humphrey in criticizing the Republican Party for supporting the divisive nominee.
Humphrey told CNN that Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus should have found a way to force Trump out early on, and that he should resign from his position.
He is particularly frustrated by a tweet that Priebus sent out after Trump’s victory in the Indiana primary in early May, calling him the “presumptive nominee,” which was quickly followed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and then Kasich, suspending their campaigns.
Humphrey was a fervent #NeverTrump member and was still hoping as late as mid-October that the GOP would find a different nominee.
Humphrey says he doesn’t regret any of his efforts, as futile as they were.
“I’ve been involved in public life 40 years in one capacity or another, and there have been times that I’ve doubted whether what I was doing was the right thing, but in this instance, I have no doubt whatever. Donald Trump is a nut. He’s a kook. He’s a creep,” Humphrey told CNN. “He can read nice things from a teleprompter, but we saw for a year, pre-teleprompter, what the real Donald Trump was like and is like.”
Humphrey told CNN he understands the frustration behind many voters’ support for Trump, but says that’s no excuse.
“I will not vote for him,” Humphrey told CNN. “If the contest is close, I will vote for Hillary Clinton. I’m no great fan of hers, but she is sane and he’s nuts. Or if she’s well ahead, I’ll write in John Kasich,” Humphrey said. “If Trump is in charge of the party after the election, I will leave.”