- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 3, 2016

DENVER — One of Donald Trump’s harshest critics, conservative pundit Ben Shapiro, said Saturday that he may vote for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee — but that doesn’t make Mr. Trump a conservative.

In fact, Mr. Shapiro has an acronym for conservatives who insist that Mr. Trump shares their values: SellOuts For Trump (SOFT).

“You can hold your nose and vote Trump. I get it. I might do the same thing,” said Mr. Shapiro, editor of DailyWire.com. “But do not justify perversions of your ideology, perversions of your principles — don’t justify the perversion of your principles in order to justify your support for him.”

“You want to hold your nose and vote Trump, go ahead and do it,” he said. “You want to destroy conservatism in order to do it, please don’t.”

Mr. Shapiro’s comments — including his description of the billionaire, real-estate mogul as a “garbage heap” — elicited cheers and boos from the audience at the Western Conservative Summit, where attendees and speakers wrestled with mixed feelings about the Trump campaign.

“I think the first thing we need to do as conservatives is recognize a basic truth: Conservatives have already lost this election,” said Mr. Shapiro. “We now have a couple of bad choices in front of us, some really bad choices in front of us. One may be much worse than the other, by the way. But conservatism already lost. So here’s the real question: How do we start over and build this thing up from the beginning?”

He also took a swing at former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who blasted Mr. Trump’s critics on the right in a speech Friday, calling them “Republicans Against Trump” or RATs.

“People who celebrate Trump and pretend he’s a conservative and try to pervert conservatism to fit Donald Trump, those people are sellouts for Trump. They’re S-O-F-T: soft,” said Mr. Shapiro. “Those people are the reason this NeverTrump movement even exists in the first place because there’s an idea that the people willing to sell out conservatism for victory are going to destroy both victory and conservatism.”

The three-day conference, billed as the largest gathering of conservatives outside Washington, D.C., wraps up Sunday at the Colorado Convention Center.

The seventh-annual event is sponsored by the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University.

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