U.S. Rep. Mike Turner indicated Thursday he will support the Republican presidential nominee despite Ohio Democrats calls the same day to denounce Donald Trump.
Turner was unavailable for an interview Thursday, but the Dayton Republican congressman said in a statement without mentioning Trump by name: “I will be endorsing the Republican nominee because Hillary Clinton would be an awful president as she has shown a blatant disregard for our laws.”
The statement added Clinton, who is nearing the delegate count needed to become the Democratic nominee, had “placed our national security in jeopardy with conscious misuse of classified material; she has supported severe cuts to our military and believes that our borders should remain open to anyone without proper vetting.”
In a press conference Thursday in downtown Dayton, Montgomery County Democratic Party Chairman Mark Owens called on the congressman and Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman to distance themselves from Trump, who is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee after all other candidates dropped out of a once-crowded primary race.
Owens was joined by Dayton Board of Education member John S.McManus and Montgomery County Young Democrats President Willis E. Blackshear Jr. The Democrats criticized Trump as a “dangerous” choice to lead the country and for his remarks on immigrants, women, minorities and reports of violence at some of the candidate’s campaign rallies.
Blackshear, 23, a Sinclair Community College student, said “as a young person, I feel a Donald Trump presidency would not be good for our nation. As we have seen, he has terrible remarks for immigrants and women and minorities and we don’t need that as a leader.”
Requests for comment were sent to both the Clinton and Trump campaigns.
The Democrats highlighted a CNN interview Turner gave in December and quoted the congressman as saying then: “… Donald Trump is not qualified to be president of the United States or hold any elective office.”
Owens said he agreed with Turner’s remark. “We call on Mike Turner, and continue to call on Mike Turner, to be a man of integrity and to be a patriot and to put the country above party and reject Donald Trump,” the Democratic Party chairman said.
Turner’s office said the congressman’s remark about Trump was made in the context of Turner’s response to a CNN interviewer’s question about Trump’s call then to impose a ban on Muslim travel to the United States “until our representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.” Trump made the statement after a deadly terrorist attack in Paris and a mass shooting in San Bernadino, Calif.
At the time, Turner flatly rejected Trump’s remarks, calling them, among other things, “deplorable” and “outrageous.”
“I believe our immigration laws should be changed based on real national security threats and our border needs to be secured,” Turner said in a written statement Thursday. “However, his (Trump’s) suggestion that we bar individuals immigrating to our country based on religion is misplaced and is one that I cannot support. He continues to gain knowledge and experience that has been increasingly recognized by voters across the country. I look forward to hearing from him as he clarifies his stance on immigration to reflect our country’s values and beliefs.”
Portman for Senate campaign spokesperson Michawn Rich wrote Thursday in an email Portman has said for the past year he intends to support the Republican nominee. However, the statement did not mention Trump by name.
Trump is expected to capture enough delegates to become the GOP presidential nominee at the party convention in July in Cleveland.