Sen. Todd C. Young (R-Ind.) said Thursday that he does not plan to support Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, citing Trump’s refusal to call Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal during a televised town hall and broader concerns about the former president’s ability to win another general election.
“Where do I begin?” Young, a veteran lawmaker who previously led the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, told reporters at the Capitol when asked about his reservations about Trump.
During the CNN town hall on Wednesday night, Trump declined to say whether he wants Ukraine to win its war against Russia. Trump also would not say whether he considers Putin a war criminal. He said that it would be harder “to make a deal to get this stopped” if he characterized Putin — whom he called a “smart guy” — that way.
“I think President Trump’s judgment is wrong in this case,” Young told reporters. “President Putin and his government have been engaged in war crimes. I don’t believe that’s disputed by most who’ve looked into this. … That’s why I don’t intend to support him for the Republican nomination.”
Young also voiced doubt that Trump could prevail in a general election.
“As President Trump says, I prefer winners,” Young said, according to the HuffPost. “He consistently loses. In fact, he has a habit of losing not just his own elections, but losing elections for others. … I can’t think of someone worst equipped to bring people together … and advance our collective values than the former president.”
Young would not say if he preferred a particular Republican candidate over Trump, allowing only that “it won’t be him.” Young also wouldn’t say if he would back Trump in the general election if he becomes the party’s nominee, saying he doesn’t think that scenario is likely.
Young’s blunt comments come amid a push by Trump to consolidate Republican support and appear to be the inevitable nominee, setting up a rematch with President Biden. To date, 11 of the Senate’s 49 senators have publicly expressed support for Trump’s return to the White House.
That includes Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, a group tasked with electing GOP members to the chamber. Young held that job during the 2020 election cycle.
Young, considered a moderate willing to work with Democrats, voted to certify the 2020 presidential election despite Trump’s urging of lawmakers to overturn the results. Young was also critical of Trump following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, saying the then-president bore responsibility.
But Young voted to acquit Trump in his Senate trial after the House impeached him on a charge of incitement of the insurrection. Young said the House process had been too rushed.
Young was among just a handful of GOP Senate incumbents who did not get endorsed by Trump ahead of their primaries last year. Young wound up running unopposed for the nomination and easily won a second term in the heavily Republican state.
Other senators who have endorsed Trump include Indiana’s junior senator, Mike Braun (R), who said last month that reaching his decision was “not that difficult.”
Other GOP senators backing Trump include Sens. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Ted Budd (N.C.), Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.), Markwayne Mullin (Okla.), Eric Schmitt (Mo.), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.) and J.D. Vance (Ohio).