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Following the departure of Florida Senator Marco Rubio from the Presidential election, disillusioned Harvard Republicans are deliberating where to direct their efforts for the remainder of the election.
A Harvard Republican Club straw poll last November indicated that 48 percent of the membership supported Marco Rubio, 48 percent Governor Jeb Bush, and four percent percent businesswoman Carly Fiorina. At the time, no respondents indicated support for businessman Donald J. Trump, though former Republican Club President Aaron I. Henricks ’16 joked in February a Harvard Trump supporter may reside in “the far reaches of the Quad.”
Rubio’s decision last Tuesday to end his bid for presidency represents the loss of the favored candidate by the Harvard Republicans and leaves the undergraduates with an unclear preferred candidate.
“For a lot of Harvard Republicans and a lot of Republicans around the country I think we lost our first and second choices in some order or another when Rubio dropped out after Bush,” Henricks said. “I think everyone is pretty dejected and pretty disappointed with how the race has gone and the way that the frontrunner has conducted himself.”
Cameron K. Khansarinia ’18, who worked as National Co-Chair of Students for Rubio during the senator’s campaign, expressed an overriding sense of disappointment in how the election has proceeded, blaming the media as well as voters.
“To see a positive, issues-oriented campaign like Marco’s have to leave the race because there was no room for him in this election cycle was incredibly disappointing,” he said. “I’m disappointed in the voters for not being able to look past anger and at solutions. Most of all I’m disappointed in the media for perpetuating the Donald Trump fiasco.”
Now, with the Republican Club’s three preferred candidates out of the race, Republicans on campus are considering whether they will divert their support to Governor John Kasich, Senator Ted Cruz, or hope for an open national convention if Trump fails to secure the required 1, 237 delegates, Gwen R. Thomas ’17, current President of the Harvard Republican Club, said.
Campaigning is currently at a standstill as Thomas said club Republicans are “lukewarm” in their support for Cruz and still weighing options.
“If he’s the nominee, I think some of us will campaign for him. Right now I don’t think anyone is doing anything,” she said. “We had people working for Rubio and Bush up to this point but none of us are campaigning right now. I guess the feeling is we’re watching to see what happens.”
Thomas said many Harvard Republicans expressed apprehension over the success Trump has had in the race, and the implications his campaign has had for their party. Thomas confirmed that the club would not endorse a Trump nomination, but would aid Trump supporters within the club as needed.
“We will open up that avenue for them if they are interested, but it’s not like our club will be bussing down to Trump rallies or anything like that,” she said.
Still, many Harvard Republicans are hopeful that the efforts of Ted Cruz and John Kasich will lead to an openly contested national convention in July that would hopefully result in a non-Trump nomination.
“We had these candidates who could have taken on and easily defeated Hillary Clinton, but we’re not going to have them,” Khansarinia said. “So we’re frustrated, but nonetheless hopeful for the future, hopeful that Donald Trump will not be the nominee, and hopeful that we can take our party back.”
Trump won the Arizona primaries on Tuesday evening, and Cruz won Utah.
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