(CNN) Jeb Bush’s top adviser, Sally Bradshaw, has left the Republican Party to become an independent, and says if the presidential race in Florida is close, she’ll vote for Hillary Clinton.
Bradshaw said “the GOP is “at a crossroads and have nominated a total narcissist — a misogynist — a bigot… This is a time when country has to take priority over political parties. Donald Trump cannot be elected president.”
The departure from the Republican Party of a Bush loyalist is the latest sign of an influential and respected member of the GOP establishment turning against Trump. “This election cycle is a test,” Bradshaw said. “As much as I don’t want another four years of (President Barack) Obama’s policies, I can’t look my children in the eye and tell them I voted for Donald Trump. I can’t tell them to love their neighbor and treat others the way they wanted to be treated, and then vote for Donald Trump. I won’t do it.”
“Donald Trump belittled a woman who gave birth to a son who died fighting for the United States. If anything, that reinforced my decision to become an independent voter,” she said. “Every family who loses a loved one in service to our country or who has a family member who serves in the military should be honored, regardless of their political views. Vets and their family have more than earned the right to those views. Someone with the temperament to be president would understand and respect that.”
Bradshaw said the latest incident reinforced how she was feeling about the decision she’s long weighed.
Her move goes beyond what other Republicans have said or done, although many top leaders in the GOP — including Sen. John McCain, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. Mitch McConnell, among others — have made it clear that they have a big problem with Trump’s comments about a Gold Star family. But none have, as of yet, withdrawn their endorsements or support.
“I’ve been considering the switch for months. Ultimately, I could not abide the hateful rhetoric of Donald Trump and his complete lack of principles and conservative philosophy,” she said. Bradshaw hasn’t yet decided who she’ll vote for — though “it obviously won’t be Trump. I haven’t made a decision yet between Clinton, Gary Johnson or writing in a candidate.”
“If the race in Florida is close, I will vote for Hillary Clinton,” she said. “That is a very difficult statement for me to make. I disagree with her on several important issues. I have worked to elect Republicans to national and statewide offices for the last 30 years. I have never voted for a Democrat for president, and I consider myself a conservative, a supporter of limited government, gun rights, free enterprise, equality of opportunity. I am pro-life. There are no other candidates who were serious contenders for the nomination that I would not have supported.
“But,” she said, “we are at a crossroads and have nominated a total narcissist — a misogynist — a bigot. This is a time when country has to take priority over political parties. Donald Trump cannot be elected president.” Bradshaw said she sees voting against Trump as “the only real choice for reasonable, thoughtful Republicans to make.”
“Our president must represent what is good about America — a belief in opportunity for all — regardless of race and gender and background — to rise up and live the American dream,” she said. “A president can’t tear down Hispanics, or mock someone who is disabled, or use symbols in campaign literature that Jewish voters understandably find offensive. To continue to be the hope of the world, all Americans regardless of party affiliation have to reject him.”
She added: “If and when the party regains its sanity, I’ll be ready to return. But until Republicans send a message to party leadership that this cannot stand, nothing will ever change.”