Updated: Aug. 16
Current and former executive board members of the Yale College Republicans have denounced the organization in the wake of the club’s controversial endorsement of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Four members of the Yale College Republicans’ seven-member executive board have resigned in the wake of the club’s controversial endorsement of Trump, leaving their positions to form a new organization called the Yale New Republicans, they announced Thursday morning, three days after the initial endorsement.
And on Sunday, six former chairs of the Yale College Republicans sent a statement to the News indicating their disapproval of the endorsement, adding that they believe the Yale College Republicans should reconsider their decision.
“As an organization that wants to bring more conservatives and Republicans into the party ranks, I thought we had to be very receptive of the times and public opinions,” said Yale New Republicans co-director Benjamin Rasmussen ’18, the Yale College Republicans’ former vice president. “It’s a difficult situation because our club gets implicated in that anti-Trump sentiment which now captures all Republicans on campus because of the Yale College Republicans endorsement.”
When asked for comment, Yale College Republicans presidents Emmy Reinwald ’17 and Michaela Cloutier ’18 referred only to their group’s constitution, which says the organization’s purpose is to “aid in the election of Republican candidates at all levels of government.”
“The Yale College Republicans remains a resource for any Yale student who would like to learn more about the Republican Party and its candidates,” Reinwald and Cloutier wrote. They declined to comment further.
The controversial endorsement comes on the heels of the Harvard Republican Club’s announcement that it would not support Trump, the first time the group has not supported the Republican presidential nominee since its founding in 1888.
Harvard Republican Club president Declan Garvey said campus response has been overwhelmingly positive, adding that incoming freshmen have also expressed interest in getting involved with the organization. Of a survey sent to club members in early August, only 10 percent supported Trump, Garvey said, making the organization’s decision straightforward.
Rasmussen said the Yale College Republicans executive board had initially agreed to not formally endorse or denounce Trump after the Harvard announcement. But the co-presidents published the endorsement after the organization was impersonated on Twitter — a decision many board members disputed, Rasmussen said. Many board members wanted to revise the endorsement in order to appeal to the broader Yale community, he said.
“Many among the Yale College Republicans’ ranks did not see this endorsement as the best decision,” the Yale New Republicans’ statement reads. “These members have since regrouped and set out to form the Yale New Republicans, a more active Republican organization on campus that will always put national interests above partisan ones.”
The Yale New Republicans aim to bring together similarly-minded, right-leaning individuals to promote conservative values as well as increase political participation and voter education. While the organization will advocate for conservative and often Republican candidates, it is not affiliated with the National College Republican organization, allowing the group flexibility to support the most qualified candidates running.
Grant Gabriel ’17, former treasurer of the Yale College Republicans and current vice chairman of the Yale New Republicans, said the new group aims to support down-ballot candidates while separating itself from Trump. He said the Yale New Republicans will welcome undergraduate Republicans who may not be inclined to join the Yale College Republicans after the endorsement.
Most Yale Republicans do not support Trump, and the new group offers those students an organization where they will not be painted in a blanket statement, Gabriel said.
The alumni letter’s signatories, four of whom previously held leadership positions in the Connecticut Federation of College Republicans, said Trump is “uniquely unqualified” to be President of the United States. The letter refers to Trump’s attacks on Arizona Sen. John McCain’s war record, Trump’s criticism of military mother Ghazala Khan, his implication that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s father played a role in President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and demeaning comments towards women and minorities as examples of his errors in judgement. Trump’s positions are inconsistent and incoherent, the authors write, and his understanding of policy is disqualifying for any public official.
“We’re not saying the Yale College Republicans should endorse Hillary Clinton, but we do think that they should reconsider their support for Donald Trump,” the letter reads. “He is a continuing embarrassment to anyone associated with him.”
The Yale New Republicans is not the only conservative student organization to have formed as a result of the Yale College Republicans’ divisive endorsement.
Yale Undergraduate Conservatives Against Trump was formed last week to endorse a third-party candidate and campaign against Trump, according to founder and president Alexander Michaud ’17. The group currently has five undergraduate signatories and has received almost a dozen emails expressing interest from current students and incoming freshmen.
“We hope to compel other college Republicans around the country to deny Trump the endorsement of America’s conservative youth,” Michaud said. “Our work will be done when Trump is defeated in November.”