Former GOP lawmaker from Davenport pledges not to support Trump

'You don't pull the country together using the language he's used'

File photo: Former Iowa Congressional Representative Jim Leach speaks during the Intersections luncheon Friday, Sept. 6, 2013 at the First Presbyterian Church in Cedar Rapids.  (Brian Ray/The Gazette-KCRG)
File photo: Former Iowa Congressional Representative Jim Leach speaks during the Intersections luncheon Friday, Sept. 6, 2013 at the First Presbyterian Church in Cedar Rapids. (Brian Ray/The Gazette-KCRG)

DAVENPORT — Former U.S. Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, is among 30 former Republican members of Congress pledging not to support Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The lawmakers released a statement Thursday stating in part that, “Sadly, our party’s nominee this year is a man who makes a mockery of the principles and values we have cherished and which we ought to represent in Congress.”

The statement went on to say that given the “enormous power of the office, every candidate for president must be judged rigorously in assessing whether he or she has the competence, intelligence, knowledge, understanding, empathy, judgment, and temperament necessary to keep America on a safe and steady course. Donald Trump fails on each of those measures, and he has proven himself manifestly unqualified to be president.”

The statement was circulated by former Oklahoma Rep. Mickey Edwards and former Missouri Rep. Tom Coleman.

“Well, basically it’s our view — and I share it strongly — that Donald Trump not only doesn’t have the appropriate background,” Leach, a Davenport native, said Thursday from his office at the University of Iowa, Iowa City. “That is, I’m all for a person with a business background seeking the presidency. But not the way he runs his businesses. It’s not the way Iowans run their businesses.”

Leach, who served in the House of Representatives from 1977-2007, said that Trump has shown “no evidence of seriously studying what’s at issue. He has taken a path that I’m confounded by because I’ve traveled the country, visiting literally every state, giving lectures on stability. You don’t pull the country together using the language he’s used against minorities, women, and the handicapped. It’s not statesmanship.”

Leach said he is concerned about America’s role in the world. “We are at a very dangerous moment, almost a crossroads, in how we lead the world.

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“I’m not convinced that Hillary Clinton is the perfect candidate, either, and I’m not endorsing her,” he said.

Leach said he will vote for either a third-party candidate or write in someone.

There are people who fully support Trump, Leach said. “I respect the people who support any candidate,” he said.

“My own view is we have an electorate that is very disheartened about the manipulation going on in American politics, and they feel let down by the political establishment, and I happen to think they’re right,” he said.

“I think we need to get big money out of political campaigns,” he said. “There needs to be a movement that might lead to a constitutional amendment that will do away with Citizens United. I think it is the second worst ruling in the history of the Supreme Court.”

The reason for people to want change is “totally understandable and correct,” Leach said. “Frankly, the money in politics has led to the principle reason we’re seeing huge discrepancies I how the well-to-do are doing and how the less well-off are doing. If you look at Trump’s economic message it will exacerbate the problem, not narrow the gap.”

Leach said what the country needs is “a champion of the middle class, and a champion of statesmanship.”

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