In response to an inquiry from AC Voice, Amherst College Republicans (ACR) Vice President Maximos Nikitas ’17 said in an email recently that the club has “not and will not be endorsing any Presidential candidate,” due to the “diverse sentiments which prevail amongst our membership” regarding the upcoming election.
This comes after the release of compromising tapes from 2005 of GOP nominee Donald Trump discussing the sexual assault of women, during which he can be heard saying that “when you’re a star, [women] let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
The decision by the College Republicans Executive Board to refuse to endorse any candidate is a break with tradition. In 2012, ACR endorsed Mitt Romney for President, former E-Board member Max Lehrman ’15 told AC Voice. When informed of this, Nikitas said “our declining to confer an endorsement this cycle was not intended to be a conspicuous departure from convention. Yet, the divisions within our group regarding support for the nominee indeed mirror those within the Republican Party on the whole.”
Indeed, ACR is not the first College Republicans chapter to make such a decision. The Harvard Republican Club made headlines in early August when they released a statement refusing to endorse Trump, and following the revelations of Trump’s misogynistic comments last week, chapters across the country – including at the University of Virginia and the University of New Mexico – rescinded their previous endorsements.
It is not clear how many Amherst students, or even ACR members, still support Trump at this time. In response to a question on support for the controversial candidate amongst the ACR membership, Nikitas said “we have not taken any polls, but I would surmise that – particularly at this juncture – support for Trump is rather low.”
Despite the group’s non-endorsement, however, the ACR Facebook page has largely been preoccupied with posting pro-Trump memes, and a few excerpts from recent debates. At time of writing, the three most recent posts were an event for a debate viewing party; an image of Trump superimposed with a tweet of his reading “For those few people knocking me for tweeting at three o’clock in the morning, at least you know I will be there, awake, to answer the call” (a reference to Trump’s 3 AM Twitter rant in which he instructed readers to “check out [a] sex tape”); and a GIF of Hillary Clinton and Shaquille O’Neil – we’ve reproduced the latter two below.
When asked whether the page’s content constitute an endorsement of any kind, Nikitas responded that “my understanding is that we generally share articles that either represent Republican viewpoints or convey pertinent information that we think ought to be disseminated. Our intent, however, is not to endorse any particular candidate.”