At a private meeting of Republicans on Friday, Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and a major donor to the Republican Party, likened Trump to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini and hinted at the possibility of supporting the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.
One donor, John Chachas, reported, “She posed the question, ‘Is it not reasonable to support Hillary Clinton’ given all the awful things Trump has said.”
Whitman, who ran for governor of California in 2010, made the remarks at the annual summit for the GOP, hosted by Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 presidential candidate. Reporters were not allowed entry to the closed-doors meeting, but several attendees spoke about the remarks under the condition of anonymity. The Washington Post first reported the comments.
Whitman also criticized House Speaker Paul Ryan’s endorsement of the candidate. Ryan delayed giving Trump an official endorsement for several weeks, saying he could not “yet” get behind his party’s candidate. She asked the speaker how he could endorse someone who has such poor character and whose campaign has been mounted on the basis of division and a slew of personal attacks.
Whitman was not alone in slamming Ryan’s decision to back Trump. Campbell Brown, a former CNN anchor, reportedly told Ryan that one of her sons greatly admires Ryan and asked Campbell how Ryan could have possibly endorsed Trump. Campbell asked Ryan, who was visibly uncomfortable by the conversation, how she was supposed to respond to her young son’s disappointment.
Ryan called his decision good for the GOP in the long term. But, criticizing the growing numberof Republicans who have pledged their support for Trump, Whitman,who is a fundraiser foranti-Trump group Our Principles PAC,questioned how far they were willing to compromise the party’s established values and where they would draw the line. “What happens next time” she warned, raising concerns about potential future candidates who may be similar to Trump.
“I’ve been on the record with a statement saying I’m not supporting Donald Trump, and that hasn’t changed in four months,” she said.
Trump responded to the criticism in his usual fashion. “I never met Meg Whitman, but the job she is doing at Hewlett Packard is not a very good one,” he stated. “Based on the disastrous campaign she ran in California, and the tens of millions of dollars she wasted, I have learned a lot from her. I do not want her support.”
But Whitman is not the only donor who is not lending her support, as others joined Whitman’s sentiments on Friday. Ana Navarro, another GOP donorand a cable news personality, described Trump as “racist” and a “vulgarian pig who has made disgusting comments about women for years.”
When asked by ABC News if she would consider voting Democratic, Whitman responded, “I haven’t made that decision. We’ll see, get to the conventions, see who the vice presidential picks are. And then I will make that decision.”
One couple that attended the summit but declined to provide their last names said that an informal poll taken at the event found the donors were split evenly when asked whether they would support Trump or Clinton.
Whitman has been vocal about her disdain for the GOP’s presumptive nominee for a long time. In an interview in March she described Trump’s rhetoric as “repugnant.”
“I won’t be voting for Donald Trump,” she said. “Look at the comments he’s made about women, about Muslims, about reporters.”
She has also for a long time urged voters to be educated on the facts, saying in March that while she did not support Trump she was not yet at the point of leaving the party.
“When you take a look at the facts about his record, they’re pretty remarkable,” she said at the time. “I don’t think Republican voters have grasped this yet.”