Michael Steele says Donald Trump's campaign "captured that racist underbelly ... of American life"

Steele becomes the fourth former RNC chair to unendorse Trump, who "gave voice to" America's "racist underbelly"

Published October 21, 2016 5:40PM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)
(AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

Michael Steele has officially joined the scores of influential Republicans vowing not to vote for Donald Trump in the upcoming presidential election.

"I will not be voting for [Hillary] Clinton," the former RNC chairman said at a 40th anniversary dinner honoring progressive magazine Mother Jones, according to BuzzFeed News. "I will not be voting for Trump either."

The Republican nominee, Steele said, "captured that racist underbelly, that frustration, that angry underbelly of American life and gave voice to that."

"I was damn near puking during the debates," he added.

Current Chairman Reince Priebus succeeded Steele, a centrist Republican and the first African-American chair of the party, in 2011. At the time, Steele was maligned for deviating from Republican party norms (e.g. his pro-choice abortion stance and criticism of inflammatory conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh).

Steele is just one of a long list of Republican top brass that have either unendorsed or abstained from endorsing Trump. Among the more noteworthy non-endorsements: almost every member of the Bush family dynasty, the party's 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, and House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz. Among former RNC chairs refusing to endorse Trump, Steele joins Mel Martinez, Marc Racicot, and Ken Mehlman.

Larry Hogan — the Republican governor of Maryland, where Steele served from 2003 to 2007 as lieutenant governor — told The Washington Post in June that he did not plan to vote for Trump.

"I guess when I get behind the curtain I’ll have to figure it out," Hogan said. "Maybe write someone in. I’m not sure."

By Brendan Gauthier

Brendan Gauthier is a freelance writer.

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