The Republican National Committee made a big deal earlier this month about getting Donald Trump to sign a pledge that he would support the GOP's nominee in the general election. In fact, all of the party's candidates have agreed to back the eventual nominee.
That's why it was so odd — perhaps terrifying — that several candidates at the second Republican primary debate on CNN Wednesday night categorically refused to say that they would entrust the nation's nuclear launch codes to Trump. So, they're willing to endorse a guy they think might launch a nuclear weapon on a whim.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul went the furthest in actually questioning whether anyone should want Trump's finger on the proverbial button.
I think really there’s a sophomoric quality that is entertaining about Mr. Trump, but I am worried. I’m very concerned about him — having him in charge of the nuclear weapons, because I think his response, his — his visceral response to attack people on their appearance — short, tall, fat, ugly — my goodness, that happened in junior high. Are we not way above that? Would we not all be worried to have someone like that in charge of the nuclear arsenal?
Carly Fiorina had already dodged moderator Jake Tapper's query about her level of comfort with a nuclear-armed Trump.
That’s not for me to answer; it is for the voters of this country to answer, and I have a lot of faith in the common sense and good judgment of the voters of the United States of America.
Jeb Bush, who recently said that "of course" he would back a nominee Trump, borrowed Fiorina's line when he was asked the same question, saying "I think the voters will make that determination."
There's a good argument to be made that Trump is actually among the least bellicose of the Republican candidates when it comes to national security policy. He said he'd stay out of the Syrian civil war, credited himself with opposing the Iraq war and described his foreign policy in terms of diplomatic negotiation with tough customers around the world. He's basically adopted the view that if America has the biggest, baddest military in the world, no one will mess with the US of A.
But there's no question that Trump still has to clear the nuclear-temperament bar with many Republican primary voters — and with some of the candidates who have pledged to endorse him for president if he's the nominee. Who would want a president who they weren't sure was fit to make decisions about nuclear annihilation? Well: Bush, Paul, and Fiorina, apparently.