NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – For the first time since urging fellow Republican Donald Trump on Sunday to “step aside” from the presidential nomination, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam expanded in an interview about why he’s among now a quarter of the party establishment publicly not supporting the nominee.
“I have had a concern for some of the things he said that don’t reflect on us as a country,” the governor told News 2 after the groundbreaking for a state veterans cemetery in Henderson County. “But in the end, I think the last event for me was where we said it became for the good of the country and the good of our party long term and our message to the nation, I think that [stepping aside] is the right step to take.”
The governor did not specifically reference the release Friday of a 2005 videotape where Trump used vulgar language about what he would do to some women.
Trump has characterized his words as “locker room talk,” but it unleashed an estimated quarter of Republican congressional members and some governors such as Haslam to either say they won’t support Trump or ask him to step down from the presidential ticket.
Haslam carefully chose his words when asked if this was nothing short of a GOP civil war as characterized in some media outlets.
“Any time there is a contested election, you have this,” responded the governor. “The Democrats went through a pretty tough election with Bernie Sanders who is an avowed Socialist almost bearing Hillary Clinton, so they have their issues.
Governor Haslam has said he would write in the name of a Republican if Trump does not step down in favor or running mate Mike Pence.
While the Republican governor made his “step aside” call in a statement Sunday, Williamson County congressional member Marsha Blackburn, who introduced Trump during his Tennessee campaign stops last year, held her powder until Monday, but then repeated her support for the nominee after calling the 2005 tape “indefensible” and both candidates “deeply flawed.”
“With all of that said, I am going to vote for Donald Trump,” Rep. Blackburn told News 2. “You got to look what will happen with the Supreme Court. We need someone to reduce the size and scope of the federal government and that is something he is going to do.”
The Republican lawmaker dismissed the idea that a GOP civil war is underway.
This is the kind of thing that the media would love to have happen,” added the longtime lawmaker. “This is the kind of thing Hillary Clinton wants because (she) does not want to talk about what is coming out in her emails.”
The governor’s took on that GOP civil war talk by saying party divisions happen, such the Democrats and Bernie Sanders.
“So they have their own issues, but I think what people want today i hope is people running for office who have solutions to problems.” added Haslam.
Rep. Stephen Fincher, who was the veteran’s cemetery groundbreaking, also released a statement about the Trump tape.
The congressman is going back to farming in West Tennessee after three terms in Washington. His statement echoed many of the same themes as Rep. Blackburn:
“I’m voting for Trump. Clinton would be a continuation of President Obama’s failed policies that are driving our country into the ground. We have too much at stake with 94 million Americans who have dropped out of the workforce, the Supreme Court nomination in the balance, Clinton’s support for open borders, her support for raising taxes, and her support for Obamacare, in which health care costs are skyrocketing. I could go on and on.”