After yet another controversy engulfed Donald Trump’s White House bid, the Yale College Republicans said they will continue to endorse the GOP presidential nominee, even as dozens of Republicans across the nation disavow his candidacy.
On Friday, the release of a 2005 video in which Trump bragged about groping women plunged the GOP nominee’s candidacy into chaos. In the last two days, more than 40 Republican leaders have publicly disavowed Trump, according to a tally in The New York Times. Even before the latest episode in Trump’s divisive campaign, several student groups affiliated with the national College Republicans organization, including the Harvard Republican Club, had already refused to endorse the candidate. On Saturday, the chairwoman of the College National Republican Committee, Alexandra Smith, announced in a tweet that she would not be supporting Trump.
But the co-presidents of the Yale College Republicans, which formally endorsed Trump in August, told the News on Saturday night that they will continue to back the candidate.
“The endorsement of the GOP candidate by an official branch of the GOP will not be changing,” said co-president Michaela Cloutier ’18, adding that members of the Yale chapter “of course have a variety of opinions” on Trump.
The continued support for Trump was not unanimous across the group.
“Trump’s comments are quite clearly atrocious and reprehensible,” said Ben Mallet ’19, a member of the Yale College Republicans. “He should withdraw from the presidential race immediately.”
After the endorsement was announced in August, four board members of the Yale College Republicans disaffiliated from the group to form the Yale New Republicans, a group that does not support Trump. Benjamin Rasmussen ’18, one of the members who left in protest, said he was not surprised that the Yale College Republicans elected to stick with Trump, who has made derogatory comments about women and minority groups throughout the campaign.
“YCR’s only real defense of Trump has been that he is a Republican and that they are obligated to support Republicans up and down the ballot,” Rasmussen said. “Trump could say just about anything and retain YCR’s endorsement, so long as he keeps the Republican label attached to his name.”
In an interview with the News, former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean ’71, a senior fellow at Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, called the tape “shocking” and said “there is little precedent for anything Donald Trump has done in the last 15 months.”
He added that the Republican candidates who continue to support Trump are doing so for political reasons, not because they care about serving the country.
Still, the Yale College Republicans are not alone in their support for Trump. On many college campuses, students have rallied behind the GOP nominee, despite his widespread unpopularity among millennials. Students for Trump, a national organization, has nearly 50 chapters listed on its website, including groups at Harvard and the University of Washington.
But for many Republican politicians, the video, in which Trump says he could “grab [women] by the p—y” because of his star status, was the final straw in persuading them to abandon Trump after a long campaign of petty taunts and relentless controversy. On Friday, Trump apologized for his comments — but that was not enough to stop dozens of Republicans nationwide, including Republican senator and former GOP presidential nominee John McCain, from denouncing his candidacy.
At Yale, students have reacted to Trump’s comments with similar outrage. In a statement, Anthony D’Ambrosio ’18 and Helen Price ’18, co-presidents of Unite Against Sexual Assault Yale, called Trump’s comments “utterly disgusting.”
“It is beyond troubling that a contender for president of the United States holds such clear and vehement disdain towards women,” the statement read. “‘Grabbing’ a woman’s genitals without her expressed consent is predatory and sickening behavior.”
In a statement Sunday night, the Yale College Democrats called on their Republican counterparts to abandon Trump after his “morally indefensible” comments.
Will McGrew ’18, vice president of Yale Students for Hillary, said that any group still endorsing Trump should “rethink what their commitments are and why they’re engaging in political debate.” He added that the Trump tape reaffirms the urgency of voting for Hillary Clinton in the general election.
The general election is on Nov. 8, and absentee ballots have already begun to go out.