Alabama Republicans split over Trump, Madison County GOP says not OK to vote for Hillary

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. --  Donald Trump captured the Republican Party’s nomination for president without much establishment support and it is looking more and more like he won’t have that support down the stretch for the general election Nov. 8.

Trump’s off-color remarks from 2005 that were reported on Friday have drawn widespread criticism.

The remarks have split even some in the Alabama Republican Party. Gov. Robert Bentley said he wouldn’t vote for Trump. So did Alabama U.S. House members Bradley Byrne and Martha Roby.

But Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan issued a statement Monday in support of Trump. She called Trump’s remarks juvenile and disrespectful to women, but accepted his apology.

"Our votes will choose the direction we are about to take,” Lathan said. “The stroke of our pens will decide if we continue the liberal path or change directions. With the fragile balance of the Supreme Court awaiting our decision, there is a clear choice for a conservative America. Donald Trump is the Republican nominee that our primary voters chose, in record-breaking numbers, fully aware of his past and style. He is also the one person to stop Hillary Clinton and halt the liberal erosion of our nation."

Jay Town, finance chairman for the Madison County Republican Party and a member of the GOP’s state executive committee, said Trump is an unconventional candidate.

“I don’t think we all thought that he was the straight Mitt Romney-type politician,” Town said.

Town said he understands why U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. and U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. have pulled back or withdrawn their support for Trump. He said they are concerned with keeping Republican majorities in the U.S. Congress.

“I certainly understand the frustration of elected officials that have put their good name on the line to support Mr. Trump, and they constantly feel the need to have to defend this man,” Town said. “That does get a little tiresome, I’m sure.”

But Trump is no stranger to controversial statements and he’s won widespread support, Town pointed out.

“It’s a little disingenuous to me, to sort of feign surprise at this point of any that came out of Mr. Trump’s mouth 11 years ago or 11 months ago, he said. “We’ve accepted a great deal that Mr. Trump has said in the last year.”

Town credits Trump from bringing new energy to the party and expanding its ability to reach out to voters.

“I think the Trump campaign really has broadened the tent, whether he wins or not in November is another question,” he said. “But I think we’ve had to listen to a great deal more, from a great many more segments of our population, that hopefully we can get inside the Republican Party.”

That doesn’t mean it’s been a good weekend for the GOP.

“I don’t know that it really hurts Trump on some macro level,” Town said. “But it’s certainly embarrassing, it’s not what any of us want in our Republican candidate.”

But, for Town, a lack of support for Trump doesn’t mean it makes sense to support Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“If you want to withdraw your endorsement, that’s fine,” he said. “If you want to not vote for president, that’s fine. But if you vote for a Democrat, as a Republican, to me, you, at that point, disqualify yourself as being a Republican again.”