Fox figures lash out at Republicans refusing to back Trump for reelection

Donald Trump and Fox News

Citation Molly Butler / Media Matters

Update (6/9/20): This piece has been updated with additional examples.

Some Fox News personalities are lashing out over a report that a few prominent Republicans including former President George W. Bush, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney won’t be supporting President Donald Trump’s reelection.

The New York Times reported on June 6 that “Bush won’t support the re-election of Mr. Trump, and Jeb Bush isn’t sure how he’ll vote,” though a spokesperson for the former president told The Texas Tribune that the report was wrong and Bush “has not indicated how he will vote.” The Times added that Romney, a former Republican presidential nominee, “won’t back Mr. Trump and is deliberating whether to again write in his wife, Ann, or cast another ballot this November.” The report also stated that Cindy McCain, the widow of former Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, “is almost certain to support" presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. And on June 7, Powell told CNN’s Jake Tapper he will be supporting Biden for president, saying he “certainly cannot in any way support President Trump this year.”

Fox figures began lashing out on Sunday and continued into Monday.

  • Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Pete Hegseth ranted about “the arrogance of these so-called Republicans” for refusing to back Trump.
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Citation From the June 7, 2020, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Weekend

PETE HEGSETH (CO-HOST): First, here's how the Trump campaign responded. They said, "President Trump has the support of a record number of Republicans across the country" -- 96% -- "he leads a united party and will win in November." Of course, I do. First of all, because it's The New York Times, I normally wouldn't believe it. In this case, of course I do. George W. Bush establishment crowd, McCain, Romney, they want to be liked by the cocktail New York Times crowd. And I don't have personal animus toward any of these people. I supported George W. Bush. I've worked with Sen. McCain; he's a good man. I supported Mitt Romney's candidacy. But at this point, the arrogance -- the arrogance of these so-called Republicans to not back the current president of the United States running for reelection who did all the things they never did: cut taxes, crushed ISIS, pro-life, look at the justices on the Supreme Court, rebuilding the military, George W. Bush never moved the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, even though he promised his supporters he would. Staring down China, North Korea, Iran

Listen, what they don't like about President Trump of course is his style. But the moment right now that we need -- in this moment, Trump is the precise style we needed. He knew how to fight. Romney never fought. And John McCain ultimately was a campaign conservative. He'd run in Arizona, this big conservative, and he'd then would go to Washington and make amnesty deals and Republicans and conservatives couldn't take it. Trump takes on the left-wing media, there's The New York Times, these Republicans want to be loved by the left-wing media and he fights political correctness and these Republicans want to play the politically correct game. They don't get it yet what the left is. And if they won't support President Trump, they are literally casting a ballot for leftists, for comrade Cortez, for Biden, for socialism, for open borders, for globalism. That's what he represents. Their arrogance is blinding, it's offensive, and they're not Republicans if they can't support President Trump.

  • On the same program, Fox contributor and former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said he’s “going to be livid” if those Republicans oppose Trump, and he said they should “get over it” if they “don’t like his personality.”
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Citation From the June 7, 2020, edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Weekend  

MIKE HUCKABEE (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): If you have people who were nominated, and in the case of President Bush actually elected to be president by Republicans and they will no longer support the Republican nominee who went through the process and got elected, then I'm going to be not just unhappy, I'm going to be livid. And I'll tell you why.

We didn't all agree on some of the policies of Bush or McCain or Romney. But, you know, when it came down to it, we had a choice. We could choose a far-left liberal or we could choose somebody that was closer to our views. I get it that Donald Trump's bedside manner is somewhat more like Mean Joe Greene than it is the cool, collected Tom Brady, if it's on the football field.

But here's what I just don't understand with these never-Trumpers. This president is more pro-life than we've ever had, period. He's more pro-Israel. He has deregulated so much government so that the businesses of America can thrive and they have until this COVID stuff happened. This is a president who has stood up to the globalist, stood up to the unfair trade practices, brought back American jobs, has done more for minorities than any president in my lifetime in actually helping people to have good, decent jobs and a future. This is a president who has reformed criminal justice. There's an incredibly long litany of things he's done.

And some of them say, “But I don't like his personality." Well, get over it. This is not about electing a personality. Well this isn't Hollywood. This is the rough, tumble world of politics. And maybe he's not as genteel as some of us would like. But, by gosh, he's getting the job done, and it's time Republicans rally because if they don't, they're going to get Joe Biden, who isn't pro-life, who is for higher taxes, open borders, he's going to succumb to China. Everything that we find disgusting he's going to embrace it, including the socialists out here.

That's why we have to realize this is a simple choice and we better make the right one.

  • On Sunday Morning Futures, frequent Fox guest Rudy Giuliani told the Bushes to “get over your anger and think about the country.”
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Citation From the June 7, 2020, edition of Fox News' Sunday Morning Futures

MARIA BARTIROMO (ANCHOR): There's a report this morning that says former President George W. Bush and Sen. Mitt Romney will not support Donald Trump's reelection in November, according to a report this morning. 

RUDY GIULIANI (PERSONAL LAWYER FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP): No kidding. How come I'm not shocked by that?

BARTIROMO: Jeb Bush said he's not sure how he'll vote, but he's pretty much in line with their thinking as well.

GIULIANI: So there are a few people that are disgruntled. Romney has had a chip on his shoulder from the day he gave a speech four years ago that Trump would take us to war or destroy the country. I mean, go back and look at the predictions -- they've turned out to all be wrong. He's voted against everything he can to try to stop his agenda. I know Mitt, and I know the Bushes. I have a different reaction to the two of them. Mitt -- Mitt doesn't know what he believes. I mean, here's a guy that was pro-life and then he was pro-choice and who the hell knows what he is now.

The Bushes are hurt -- they're internally hurt. And my view is, get over it. The reality of this country is bigger than your personal anger at Trump because he, you know, he took off after Jeb and he ruined him -- he absolutely ruined him. But you don't have to let him ruin you if you just get up and start making rational decisions now. But there's a personal anger -- there's a personal anger that's affecting their decisions. And I'm very disappointed in them because the difference between Trump and Biden is so palpable for anyone who has Republican values. If what you really believed in all your life, as you ran on, is low taxes, an emphasis on law and order, a strong foreign policy -- maybe not exactly yours, but certainly a strong one -- and not all this crazy anarchist views that are all around Biden. And they're going to support a man who's mentally incompetent. And they know it. So you got to get -- I appeal to the Bush family: Get over your anger and think about the country.

  • Fox host Mark Levin called Jake Tapper a “media jerk” for asking Powell who he’ll support for president.
  • Fox contributor and former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said on Fox & Friends that Powell’s explanation for his support of Biden “told you everything you needed to know about the so-called deep state.” (The “deep state” narrative is a bogus right-wing conspiracy theory.)
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Citation From the June 8, 2020, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): Newt, let me ask you about this. Yesterday,  Colin Powell said he's not going to vote for Trump. Mitt Romney said he's not going to vote for Trump. The Bushes aren't  going to vote for Trump.

NEWT GINGRICH (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): Well, first of all, Colin Powell voted for Hillary Clinton. The fact that he is going to continue to vote for a liberal Democrat is not a great shock. It's a disappointment because Powell is a decent, honorable guy but it doesn't surprise me. And I thought his explanation told you everything you needed to know about the so-called deep state. He said he’s been a social friend of Joe Biden for 35 years. He's part of the Washington gang. I'm a little more surprised in the bushes and Romney for this reason. You can't think about it Trump vs. profession. If we end up with President Biden. Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and Majority Leader [Chuck] Schumer, they will in a matter of months create a radically different America because they've learned from mistakes in the Obama years. Look what's happening in California. Look what's happening in New York. They will do everything they can to make this a one-party country and I think it will be horrifying. I think it's a little strange that people like Romney and Bush would say that having the United States run like Biden, Pelosi, and Schumer is somehow a better future than Donald Trump and you have to wonder, I mean, have they thought seriously about this? As you know, I also did a podcast on Pelosi's $3 trillion bill pointing out radical ideas. It's unbelievable.

  • Later on the same program, Fox contributor Tammy Bruce went on an extended rant about what these Republicans’ positions mean, saying they are supporting a “war on the police of this nation.”
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Citation From the June 8, 2020, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): That was former Secretary of State Colin Powell giving his endorsement to Joe Biden. This as The New York Times claims prominent Republicans including former President George Bush, Sen. Mitt Romney and Cindy McCain will not be backing President Trump's reelection. But is this really what's best for the party? Here with reaction is Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce.

Tammy, you know, looking at the New York Times, their coverage on the op-ed page and also in the news coverage, for the most part over the last couple of months has been, you know, people be crazy to vote for Donald Trump and now look, here is even proof even top Republicans aren't going to vote for him as well. Does this surprise you?

TAMMY BRUCE (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): Well no, I mean, this is of course the swamp and really, is it really about what's best for the party or what's best for the country? This confirms what we did in 2016. We suspected that major leaders on both sides of the aisle didn't care about the average American, didn't care about the things that affect our future or our lives. Look, Colin Powell hasn't voted for a Republican since 2004. I mean, what's it been -- 16 years. And look Romney and Bush who I think are decent men. The fact of the matter is they're products of this swamp environment. And there's only one endorsement that really matters and that's President Trump's endorsement. We saw that what the establishment was doing in 2016 did not stop Donald Trump. But mostly, this is an insult, again  for the American people. We're looking at what Trump did in three years and look they are embarrassed. He did what they were unable to do in all that time. It's a shame, but it confirms the importance of the election of Donald Trump. But it also, Steve shows you that this binary choice, the Republicans versus Democrats, that that's what's going on here, is gone. This is about Americanism versus globalism, what's best for the American family versus what's best for the political ruling elite class, and that's the other reason why Trump is hated because he's not of them, he doesn't care what they think, he cares what we think, and we see that in his policy and his approach.

DOOCY: And you know to your point right there, Tammy, for the most part those Republicans -- prominent Republicans -- who have come out and said, “no, not going to vote for Donald Trump," you know, three years ago, they would call those people anti-Trumpers, and the problem the anti-Trumpers and the conservative mainstream has been that he's a disrupter, and they didn't like that and that's to your earlier point about the status quo.

BRUCE: Well it is but also when we look at the embracement of Joe Biden -- at least in ‘16 they weren't saying out loud that they were going to vote for Hillary. But now they are saying out loud -- some of them -- that they  are going to vote for Joe Biden. Mitt Romney intimated that he might write in his wife's name again. But they are saying they will vote for a man who represents the policy framework and an attitude that has made Minneapolis look like a war zone, that is effectively declared war on the police of this nation which means on law and order. They know that that's what he represents. They know that that is the crowd that now has taken over that party and they know that Joe Biden is not someone who’s in control of what that message is. They are willing to throw us effectively into a war environment here at home after pushing us into Mr. Bush's case, two unending wars, creating the worst recession since the great depression, and they want us to go back to what they were doing to us? The message in November, it's clearly important that November is coming up and we'll have our voice then as well.

DOOCY: Well despite the reporting by the New York Times, George W. Bush's spokesperson says he has not yet figured out who he's going to vote for in November. All right. Tammy Bruce thank you very much for joining us.

  • On June 8, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs dismissed these Republican politicians as “RINOs.”
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Citation From the June 8, 2020, edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight

LOU DOBBS (HOST): No president in his first term in office has ever seen this kind of challenge and threat to the United States and overcome it. And I have -- I just cannot comprehend Mitt Romney's and the other RINOs of the Senate in particular, you may be distressed to learn that Colin Powell is not going to vote for him, congressman, in November. He didn't the last time either.

You may be astonished to find that George W. Bush, the way the national left-wing media is reporting it. They were sure, sure Trump votes going into this. Your reaction to the RINOs in both the House and the Senate.