GOP senior statesmen continue to hold their fire on Trump

With only two months left until the presidential election, the most senior national security figures in the Republican Party are largely staying on the sidelines, even though almost all are said to privately oppose Donald Trump becoming commander in chief. Many of their more junior colleagues are calling on them to get off the bench.

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Former GOP secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, George Shultz, James Baker and Henry Kissinger; former defense secretary Robert Gates; and former national security adviser Stephen Hadley are among the influential officials who have kept their powder dry as Trump has remade a Republican national security discussion they spent decades shaping into something unrecognizable.

One would think these figures, many of whom supported other candidates during the GOP primary, would publicly object to Trump’s coziness with Russia, his threatening of NATO, his openness to nuclear proliferation, his call for a ban on Muslims entering the country, his pledge to toss away the Geneva Conventions and his general rejection of America’s current role in the world…

Sources close to the senior officials offer an alternative explanation. The GOP has an interest in keeping some leaders out of the fray, to help repair the party if Trump loses. Those who have endorsed Clinton won’t be able to help unite Republicans for the foreign policy fights to come, they said. But by delegating criticism of Trump to former staffers, they are abdicating their leadership responsibilities when it could count the most while passing on the real risks of opposing Trump to other Republicans who still aspire to serve their party and their country.

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