- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 7, 2016

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse would rather spend time watching dumpsters burn than witness Donald Trump be nominated the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nominee.

The Hill reached out to Republican senators to get a count of how many will attend the party’s July 18-21 convention in Cleveland, Ohio. A spokesman for Mr. Sasse pulled no punches in response to the website’s inquiry.

“Sen. Sasse will not be attending the convention and will instead take his kids to watch some dumpster fires across the state, all of which enjoy more popularity than the current front-runners,” the spokesman said, the website reported.

The Nebraskan senator has been a persistent critic of Mr. Trump for months, saying in February that he would rather look for a third-party candidate than support the billionaire.

“I’m as frustrated and saddened as you are about what’s happening to our country. But I cannot support Donald Trump,” Mr. Sasse told supporters via his Facebook page on Feb. 28. “Please understand: I’m not an establishment Republican, and I will never support Hillary Clinton. I’m a movement conservative who was elected over the objections of the GOP establishment. My current answer for who I would support in a hypothetical matchup between Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton is: Neither of them. I sincerely hope we select one of the other GOP candidates, but if Donald Trump ends up as the GOP nominee, conservatives will need to find a third option.”

“Mr. Trump’s relentless focus is on dividing Americans, and on tearing down rather than building back up this glorious nation. Much like President Obama, he displays essentially no understanding of the fact that, in the American system, we have a constitutional system of checks and balances, with three separate but co-equal branches of government. And the task of public officials is to be public ‘servants.’ The law is king, and the people are boss. But have you noticed how Mr. Trump uses the word ‘Reign’ — like he thinks he’s running for King? It’s creepy, actually. Nebraskans are not looking for a king. We yearn instead for the recovery of a Constitutional Republic.”

Fifteen other senators said they would not attend or were undecided on whether to show up for Mr. Trump’s nomination. A partial list of those who will not be in attendance includes John McCain of Arizona, Marco Rubio of Florida, Mark Kirk of Illinois, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

“Florida has always been a competitive state, and it will be this fall. Marco had planned to go to the convention before he decided to seek re-election. Since Marco got into the race late, he will be in Florida campaigning and meeting with voters instead of going to Ohio,” Rubio spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said, The Washington Times reported Thursday.

The Hill confirmed 32 senators who plan on being in Cleveland later this month.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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