Bishop E.W. Jackson, the former Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in Virginia and fervent Ted Cruz supporter, says the GOP must unite around its presidential nominee, even if it’s Donald Trump, in order to stop Hillary Clinton from returning to the White House.
Jackson, who still holds out hope for Cruz at the moment, wrote an open letter to all Republicans, urging them to stop the personal bickering over their preferred candidates and prepare to confront Clinton in the general election.
“I’m profoundly concerned about the stark and mean-spirited differences that are emerging between these candidates that are by and large personal, not always policy, and that this is going to interfere with their ability to mend fences and come together,” said Jackson in an interview conducted in response to his letter.
“I’ve heard them make statements that they’ll never support each other. That’s terrible for the party. That’s terrible for the general election. I decided I’d had enough of it,” he said. “We need to call for unity and we need to prepare to defeat Hillary Clinton.”
Exit polls in various states show anywhere from 25-40 percent of non-Trump voters in Republican contests plan will not vote for Trump if he is the nominee. The #NeverTrump campaign among many grassroots activists is also vowing to hold firm.
Jackson strongly disagrees.
“Would they prefer Hillary Clinton?” laughed Jackson. “It’s very simple. Would they prefer Hillary Clinton. She is the alternative. We’re not dealing with this in a vacuum. It’s not wither Trump or Jesus. It’s Trump or Hillary Clinton,” said Jackson.
Reiterating that he thinks Cruz would be a better president than Trump, Jackson says Trump’s stand on several issues convince him it is worth the effort to help the front-runner defeat Clinton if Trump emerges as the nominee.
“Trump does espouse pro-life positions. Trump does espouse the importance of the free market and creating jobs. Trump does express his concern about the erosion of religious liberty in our country,” said Jackson. “He has said some things that give me hope. I have absolutely no hope with Hillary Clinton.”
“Some of the other issues we may not always agree on, but my goodness, I have far more agreement with him than I do with her,” said Jackson.
Jackson then rattled off several issues that terrify him if Clinton is elected.
“Hillary Clinton was a Saul Alinsky devotee. She was discipled by him. She clearly uses the free market when she wants to but I have no doubt that she sees the free market as the enemy of equality and the enemy of fairness and will do the same thing that Barack Obama has done,” said Jackson.
Trump has offered kind words about Planned Parenthood in this campaign but has also denounced its abortion practices. Jackson says Hillary is far more cozy with the nation’s largest abortion provider.
“Hillary Clinton is clearly a major supporter of Planned Parenthood. She thinks it’s just the greatest thing since Carter’s Little Liver Pills were invented. She’s going to do everything in her power, not only to preserve, but to expand the power of Planned Parenthood. And Hillary Clinton has not even once spoken about any threat to religious liberty,” said Jackson.
In his letter, Jackson says he’s personally experienced the disastrous effects of a fractured party. In 2013, Jackson was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in Virginia on the ticket that included gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli and attorney general candidate Mark Obenshain. All three lost.
In our interview, Jackson elaborated on why the lack of unity was lethal for the GOP in a tight race.
“Very prominent Republicans who, for personal reasons perhaps and maybe reasons I don’t fully understand, decided they were going to do everything in their power to undermine the ticket. In effect, for a short time there, we didn’t really have a party,” said Jackson.
“It was just a gang of individuals who were divided against each other and didn’t care whether the party won or not. They just cared that the people they didn’t like lost. And of couurse, they got their wish,” said Jackson.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe was elected governor and Democrats Ralph Northam and Mark Herring won the lieutenant governor and attorney general races respectively.
“The commonwealth has suffered as a result. I don’t want our country to suffer as a result of the same kind of behavior at the national level,” said Jackson.
Jackson stated that if Trump gets within 100 delegates of the 1,237 he needs for a majority, then it’s in the GOP’s best interest to choose Trump as the nominee.
“I think to deny Donald Trump the nomination (if he is within 100 delegates) is going to fracture the party, perhaps irreparably. At that point, I would really have some soul-searching to do,” said Jackson.
As much as he prefers Cruz, Jackson says he may well back Trump on the convention floor for the sake of the party.
“I might just have to say, ‘It’s time to wait. Ted Cruz is young enough that he can come back, young enough that maybe we’ll see him as president of the United States one day. Maybe this is not his time,'” said Jackson.
“Now we’re not there yet, but we may come to that point,” he added.