- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Republican congressman Matt Salmon of Arizona has backed two of GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s rivals, turning to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas after his first endorsement, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, “didn’t pan out so well.”

But if Mr. Trump becomes the nominee, Mr. Salmon said Tuesday he is ready to back the mogul “without equivocation” over Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in November.

“If he becomes the nominee, and it’s between somebody who most of us think should be indicted, versus Donald Trump, it’s a no-brainer. I, for one, am gonna vote for Donald Trump,” Mr. Salmon said at a “Conversations with Conservatives” event hosted by the Heritage Foundation.

Republican primary voters in Arizona and Utah are pledging themselves to Mr. Trump, Mr. Cruz or Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday.

As it stands, Mr. Trump leads the contest with 681 delegates, compared to 425 for Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and 143 for Mr. Kasich. A candidate needs 1,237 to secure the nomination.

It’s common for lawmakers to line up behind their party’s standard-bearer in presidential elections, and congressional Republicans have repeatedly criticized Mrs. Clinton over her use of private email during her tenure at the State Department.

But Mr. Trump’s unyielding stance on everything from water boarding terror suspects to building a southern-border wall to keep out illegal immigrants is making some Capitol Hill Republicans anxious. They say his comments, coupled with violence at his campaign rallies, will harm the party’s electoral prospects and reputation heading into the November elections.

Indeed, Mr. Salmon said some of Mr. Trump’s positions have been “troubling.”

But given a choice between Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Salmon and another member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus said they will back the flamboyant businessman.

Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, said Mr. Trump hasn’t locked down the party nod, so it is too early for pronouncements.

“If he’s our nominee, though,” he said, “I look at Trump versus Clinton — that’s obvious.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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