The HP executive said Clinton, the Democratic nominee, had reached out to her in a phone call about a month ago, one of the first indications that Clinton was aggressively courting Republican leaders.
Meg Whitman, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise executive and Republican fundraiser, said Tuesday that she would support Hillary Clinton for president and give a “substantial” contribution to her campaign in order to stop Donald Trump, whom she berated as a threat to American democracy.
“I will vote for Hillary, I will talk to my Republican friends about helping her, and I will donate to her campaign and try to raise money for her,” Whitman said in a telephone interview.
She revealed that Clinton, the Democratic nominee, had reached out to her in a phone call about a month ago, one of the first indications that Clinton was aggressively courting Republican leaders. While acknowledging she diverged from Clinton on many issues, Whitman said it was time for Republicans “to put country first before party.”
Using remarkably blunt language, she argued that the election of Trump, whom she called “a dishonest demagogue,” could lead the country “on a very dangerous journey.” She noted that democracies had seldom lasted longer than a few hundred years and warned that those who say that “it can’t happen here” were being naive.
Most Read Nation & World Stories
- Trump’s shifting explanations follow a familiar playbook
- In America's fastest-growing metro, a rising fear water will run out
- The coming California megastorm
- The fabulously wealthy are fueling a booming luxury ranch market out West
- Anne Heche, TV, film and stage actor, dies at 53 from injuries sustained in L.A. car crash
Whitman also said she “absolutely” stood by her comments at a private gathering of Republican donors this year comparing Trump to Hitler and Mussolini, explaining that dictators often come to office through democratic means.
“Time and again history has shown that when demagogues have gotten power or come close to getting power, it usually does not end well,” Whitman said. She asserted that Trump had already “undermined the character of the nation.”
A billionaire who spent $140 million of her own money in a failed bid for governor of California in 2010, Whitman, the former chief executive of eBay, is a prized defector for Clinton. She is close to Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee; has deep ties to the country’s business elite; and is a rare female Republican executive in Silicon Valley.
While many leading Republican donors have made clear that they will not donate to Trump, few have taken the next step of throwing their support, and financial largesse, to Clinton.
Whitman was a leading fundraiser for Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign and was a chairwoman of Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential finance team this year. But after Christie withdrew from the campaign and endorsed Trump, Whitman excoriated the New Jersey governor for what she said was an “astonishing display of political opportunism.”
On Tuesday, Whitman said she had not spoken to Christie since he endorsed Trump and pointedly noted that she had not changed her view of his decision.
Whitman, who said she would remain a Republican, brings with her a considerable network of contributors, some of whom she said were open to giving to Clinton. She said she was willing to campaign for Clinton, said she would do her best to gather checks for her campaign and indicated she would personally give to both Clinton and her affiliated super PACs. An aide to Whitman said she would personally give at least an amount in the “mid-six figures” to the Clinton effort.
While Democrats openly appealed at their convention last week to Republicans uneasy with Trump, Clinton and her top supporters have been making a similar cross-party pitch in private since before the Democratic nomination fight even came to its conclusion.
Whitman said that she did not commit to supporting Clinton when they talked on the phone last month and that Clinton had offered no assurances on how she would govern. But Whitman called it “a lovely chat” that included a discussion of economic issues.
She said she had told Clinton that she wanted to see the two parties’ conventions and assess the running mates that each nominee chose before making her decision. When Clinton selected Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, a consensus-oriented figure, “that was a positive for me,” Whitman said.
“I don’t agree with her on very many issues,” she added, “but she would be a much better president than Donald Trump.”