DES MOINES — Two top Iowa Republicans said Wednesday they’ll support Donald Trump if he is the party’s presidential nominee even though the New York real estate developer sometimes doesn’t make it easy.
“I think it’s important to respect the will of the people,” Gov. Terry Branstad said about the prospects of a Trump nomination. “Just because you’re an elected official or a party leader you don’t have a right to thwart the will of the people.”
In a separate interview, 4th District Rep. Steve King agreed the decision is up to voters who participate in caucuses and primaries.
“We need to nominate a presidential candidate by the rules of the Republican Party and then, if we do so, then we need to support that nominee,” he told Radio Iowa.
“I’m like (Ohio Gov.) John Kasich, though, and I’ll say that sometimes Trump makes it hard,” added King, who has endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Neither Branstad nor King is ready to concede the nomination to Trump.
“It’s not over yet,” Branstad said. “The process needs to go on. The will of the people needs to be respected.
Trump, he continued, “has been able to generate a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and turn a lot of people out.”
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Trump could wrap up the nomination if he wins winner-take-all primaries in Ohio and Florida Tuesday, Branstad said.
King sees a path to the nomination for Cruz, but it’s not as clear as it would be for Trump. It might be logical for Kasich and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to end their campaigns now, King said, but that’s a “very personal decision” only the candidate and key supporters can make.
“There are check writers out there that are holding their checkbook and saying: ‘I’m ready to send some good money after bad. Why don’t you stay in and well give it another go?’ because they want to preserve their investment and they believe in the candidate,” King said.
King warned that Republicans who think they would like a brokered convention that would nominate Kasich or Rubio to think twice about the impact of ignoring the results of primaries and caucuses.
“If Trump and Cruz arrive with the lion’s share of the delegates and not the 1,237 necessary to win the nomination and the convention thinkers and organizers decide they want to serve up the nomination to someone other than Trump or Cruz, it seems to me there would be a major blowup (that would) take place,” King said.
Branstad is encouraged by the “phenomenal” turnout in the GOP nominating process, including the record-breaking 187,000 who participated in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.
“That tells me there’s a lot of enthusiasm,” he said.