Doug Elmets, a native Iowan, lifelong Republican and former spokesman for President Ronald Reagan, came back to Iowa recently to speak in support of Hillary Clinton. Having grown up in Des Moines, graduating from the University of Iowa and maintaining his Iowa roots provides him a unique perspective on Iowa politics. He cast his first vote for president 40 years ago in Iowa and it was for Ronald Reagan.
“I’ve been voting for Republicans in every election since, until now,” Elmets said. “I have never voted for a Democrat in my entire life. On November 8, I’m going to cast my vote for Hillary Clinton. One only needs to look at Donald Trump’s crazy performance…to reinforce why Hillary Clinton is the last, best hope for America.”
Before working in the Reagan White House he worked for then-Congressman Chuck Grassley. He has maintained that party loyalty for years by assisting various Republican campaigns in California where he lives today. It’s quite remarkable for a lifelong Republican that has devoted his life to his party to switch his support to Hillary Clinton. He pointed to national security issues as the key reason for his switch.
He referred to Russia, the Middle East, and Korea as examples of trouble spots for the future.
“We are entering more troubling times than any time in our history … Somebody with experience, level-headed, somebody that doesn’t coddle tyrants, or alienate allies is the right person for the office and that’s Hillary Clinton,” Elmets said. “For me and a lot of Republicans the decision is easy, it’s important to have country over party.”
In a Des Moines Register op-ed on June 17th he wrote, “This year party loyalty must take a backseat to what’s best for America … This year I’m voting for Hillary Clinton, and given the alarming alternative crowned by millions of my fellow Republicans, it’s an easy call.”
This summer he spoke at the Democratic Convention and in that speech he described Trump as a “petulant, dangerously unbalanced reality TV star.”
When he first began speaking out last May, he said he was pretty lonely and the backlash was vicious. However, since then, he gets hundreds of emails from other Republicans thanking him for speaking up.
“Trump is nasty, disrespectful, hotheaded and prone to bizarre outbursts featuring all manner of slurs. He is hateful, so it’s no surprise that his amped-up troops are spewing hate, too,” Elmets explained in his Register op-ed. Elmets also pushed back on the recently-released list of 88 generals and admirals that had endorsed Trump, saying some of the Clinton-backing generals described them as military people no one knew. He doesn’t believe these 88 represent the vast majority of the military.
“They are people nobody really knows,” he noted. “They’re almost like also-rans in the military, not in a derogatory sense. They’re just not significant leaders.”
He questioned how anyone could take seriously some of Trump’s comments, like “the generals were reduced to rubble during the Obama administration and he could tell by their body language”. He is concerned Trump would “deal with the nuclear code as he deals with Twitter.”
Asked about the potential fallout for Iowa Republican leaders that support Trump if he loses, he explained they might see problems in the future.
“Any Republican supporting Donald Trump is going to have an albatross tied around their neck for the rest of their political career,” Elmets said. “When Donald Trump loses on Election Day, those Republicans that weren’t willing to stand up to him are going to have to account for their actions during this campaign … Anybody supporting Trump is doing it for what they believe is political expediency.”
Commenting on how Iowa has changed from the time he worked for Ronald Reagan, he said, “Iowa is the same … but Republican leaders haven’t kept pace with the times. One need only look at the Republican platform which they are part and parcel of.”
In a Des Moines Register piece on July 28 he said this about the Republican platform:
“It’s the most alarming collections of extreme positions imaginable, laced with anti-immigrant, anti-gay and anti-women positions anchored by Trump’s fantasy wall at the Mexican border.”
Elmets joins a long list of prominent Republicans that have courageously spoken up and denounced Trump. His prediction that Iowa Republicans supporting Trump will pay a heavy political price demonstrates the deep divisions within the Republican Party.
by Rick Smith