Following the largest mass shooting in U.S. history which claimed the lives of 49 people and injured more than 50 more on Sunday, a former Republican senator has decided it’s time to grow up and vote for a responsible adult in November.
Former Sen. Larry Pressler (R-SD) came out on Monday to call for universal background checks, an assault weapons ban, and the election of Hillary Clinton in November.
I can’t believe I’m endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, but I am,” said Pressler, who spoke with The Hill on Monday after endorsing Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, in a statement issued over the weekend.
“This morning, I woke up and told my wife, ‘Did I really do that?’ ” he said. “But I did.
“If someone had told me 10 years ago I would do this, I wouldn’t have believed them.
Pressler served three terms in the Senate before losing his seat to Tim Johnson (D-SD) in 1997. He said he feels that voting for Clinton is the “responsible thing to do.”
The former senator’s decision may have a lot to do with the current Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s erratic behavior. Trump recently launched a racist attack against a sitting Hispanic federal judge and following the shooting he’s made similar racist statements about President Obama and the Muslim community, including floating the possibility that Obama was working with ISIS.
After the Orlando shooting, Trump tweeted this.
Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
On Monday, Trump once again bragged about being right and accused President Obama of being an ISIS supporter.
I’m getting thousands of letters and tweets that I was right about the whole situation,” Trump said of his prowess in predicting terrorist attacks. “I don’t want congratulations. What I want them to do is be tough and vigilant, our government. We are led by a man who is either not tough, not smart, or he has something else in mind. And the something else in mind, people can’t believe it.
Pressler said that he felt disenfranchised by Trump’s rise to power within his party. The two men have wildly different views, especially on the subject of gun control:
We need to go the route of more gun control as a result of Orlando and all the other shootings that have occurred,” Pressler said. “But it’s almost as though Republicans are saying gun control shouldn’t be part of the conversation at all.
However, gun control isn’t the only issue which made Pressler join “Republicans for Clinton,” the former senator is also concerned about Trump’s toxic rhetoric towards Muslims:
This election is starting to sound like the German elections in [the late 1920s],” Pressler said. “This is a very dangerous national conversation we’re slipping into.
Pressler, who also happens to be a Morman Sunday school teacher, said that he recognizes the danger that demagogues like Trump represent when they single out a particular religion.
In 1838, Missouri Gov. Lilburn Boggs issued an order calling for the execution of all Mormons living in his state. The massacre prompted a mass migration of Mormons, who eventually settled in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Pressler said that Trump makes “Mormons very nervous.”
Mormons are the only religious group besides the Jews who have been ordered by the government to be extinguished, killed,” he said.
“The worst thing is for Republicans to be silent,” Pressler added. “A lot of Republicans are just saying, ‘I’ll sit it out, I won’t vote.’ Or, ‘I’ll vote for a third-party candidate.’ But if they don’t vote, they are giving more power to dark forces.
Following the attack on Sunday, many political pundits speculated how the shooter’s alleged links to ISIS could serve to help Trump’s campaign. However, his unpresidential reaction to such a serious tragedy may be used to do more damage to his campaign, especially among Republicans like Pressler, who’s reminded of the need for a serious President leading the country through times of crisis.
Featured image via Angelo Merendino/Stringer/Getty