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Wondering why some local Republicans will vote for Clinton instead of Trump? We asked them

Posted at 6:00 AM, Aug 24, 2016

This year it likely won't be party loyalists who decide the presidency - it will be swing voters. 

These are people who are either undecided or willing to break party lines and vote for the candidate who speaks to their issues, their woes and their dreams for a better country.

RELATED: Read about longtime Democrats who will vote for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Here are the stories of local Republicans who plan to support presidential nominee Hillary Clinton this fall. In their words, they describe why they want to see a Democrat in the White House in 2016.

 

Rob Kearney, a lifelong Republican and U.S. Army veteran from Mt. Washington, is supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House.

 

Rob Kearney is a lifelong Republican, a U.S. Army veteran, a foreign policy buff and a regular door-knocking campaigner for local GOP candidates.

But this fall his volunteer hours -- and his vote -- will go to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

“I voted for every Republican presidential nominee," said Kearney, 40, of Mt. Washington. "This is the first year I won’t be doing that. It’s a little weird.”

Kearney isn’t changing his party -- or his conservative beliefs. He just believes Donald Trump would be a bad president.

He would have preferred Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who he considers a more moderate Republican.

“I thought it was laughable that he (Trump) could win the nomination,” Kearney said. “And when he did, that’s when I went to Hillary Clinton’s website and … said 'I’d like to volunteer for your campaign and go door to door.'”

Since then, Kearney has made calls at a Clinton phone bank and plans to volunteer for her campaign through the election.

“If you told me back in 2004 that 12 years later I’d be working for the Hillary Clinton campaign, I’d say you’re insane,” Kearney said.

Back then, he was stationed in Kosovo for a peacekeeping mission. He and a buddy took a rare day off in order to watch the polls close on Election Day 2004. They set up big televisions in the U.S. Army base’s recreation room to see George W. Bush win reelection.

But life has changed for Kearney since then. Now married with three young daughters, Kearney doesn’t like Trump’s offensive comments about women.

He also is rebuffed by Trump’s foreign policies, his stance on immigration and his attacks on the parents of a Muslim American war hero who was killed while on military duty in Iraq.

Kearney lost a Muslim American friend who was killed while on active duty in Afghanistan.

“He was an immigrant from Bangladesh, and Trump wouldn’t have even let him into the country,” Kearney said.

Kearney said he also won’t vote for other Republican candidates who have endorsed Trump.

“If these down ticket Republicans aren’t going to say, 'This isn’t who we are,’ then I can’t vote for them,” Kearney said.

But Kearney has no plans to switch parties. In fact, he may vote against Clinton in 2020.

“If John Kasich runs against Clinton in 2020, I would vote for John Kasich,” Kearney said.

 

James Stepp, a lifelong Republican conservative and West Chester truck driver, is volunteering to help Hillary Clinton win the White House.

 

James Stepp, 29, still remembers the disappointment after his favorite Republican candidate, Ted Cruz, abruptly dropped out of the presidential race on May 3.

“I went to sleep thinking he was in the race and when I woke up the next morning, Ted Cruz had dropped out. I was devastated. He was my guy,” said Stepp, a West Chester truck driver who had been part of Cruz’s volunteer ground game in Warren County.

In the weeks that followed, Stepp did a lot of soul searching as he explored which remaining candidate to support. A lifelong Republican who was raised on conservative politics, he naturally turned first to Donald Trump.

He didn’t like Trump’s aggressive tone during the primary, but figured it would subside once he emerged as the GOP nominee.

Instead, Stepp said, it got worse. 

“I gave Donald Trump every opportunity to stop being a complete jerk and articulate a message,” Stepp said. “I gave him plenty of opportunity to rehabilitate himself.”

Nowadays, Stepp is back on the campaign circuit – as a volunteer for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. He is making phone calls, knocking on doors, registering voters and canvassing neighborhoods.

“I came to the logical conclusion that Hillary Clinton -- even though there are some things I don’t agree with – there many more reasons to support her,” Stepp said.

Yet Stepp hasn’t been able to convince his friends and family, who are all conservatives, to support Clinton. While none will vote for Trump, he said some support Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, and others will write in Cruz’s name on the ballot.

“They see where I’m coming from, they just haven’t gotten to that point yet,” Stepp said.

Stepp also won’t vote for any Republican candidate who has endorsed Trump. That includes Sen. Rob Portman, who has endorsed Trump but tried to keep this distance.

“Anybody who will touch Donald Trump and will support him, I won’t vote for them,” Stepp said.

 

Antoinette Asimus, a longtime Republican from College Hill, is supporting Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton this fall.

 

Antoinette Asimus, 70, was at a Hillary Clinton campaign planning meeting for volunteers two weeks ago when she decided to announce to the group that she is, in fact, a registered Republican.

“I’m sad as I’ve observed what’s happening in my Republican Party,” said Asimus, who lives in College Hill and owns a small consulting business with her husband.

Asimus voted for Kasich in the GOP primary, and when he ended his bid for the presidency, it didn’t take long for her to switch her loyalty to Clinton.

“We want to put someone in the position of president who has the temperament to manage, and is a credible, fit leader of our country,” Asimus said. “We do not want to give someone access to the nuclear codes so he can make a decision and give the go-ahead to destroy the whole planet, and then come back the next day and say ‘I was  joking’ or ‘It was sarcasm.’ Then it’s too late.”

While Clinton’s policies are moderate enough to win Asimus’ vote, some friends and neighbors still have concerns about voting for her.

Asimus will be working to persuade them. As a volunteer, she regularly puts in 10 to 12 hours a week for the campaign.

Asimus also won’t vote for Republican Sen. Rob Portman this fall, despite voting for him in 2010. Portman’s refusal to consider a hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, and his tepid endorsement of Trump, are the two reasons he won’t get Asimus' vote.

“I feel that he’s not really clear about how dangerous Donald Trump is to the United States' national security,” Asimus said. “He’s not clear about Trump’s temperament and unfitness to be president so therefore I feel Sen. Portman is dangerous to us.”

 

Joy Albi, a longtime Cincinnati Republican, is throwing her campaign energy and her vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton.

 

When it comes to the issues that worry Joy Albi, 63, foreign policy and national security top the list.

With two sons in the U.S. Marine Corps, both of whom attended the U.S. Naval Academy on recommendations from local Republican leaders, Albi has voted for GOP candidates for most of her life.

Yet this year Albi is supporting Hillary Clinton. She donated money to Clinton, registered voters for the campaign, and is opening her house so her college volunteers have somewhere to stay.

“This is the first time I’ve ever been actively involved in a campaign,” said Albi, a retired Cincinnati criminal defense attorney.

In the past few years, Albi has moved away from the Republican Party and toward the Democrats.

“The Democratic party has had a more consistent straight-line message,” Albi said. “I think it’s the opposite of what’s happened to the Republican Party. The Tea Party had a lot to do with that fracture.”

“Its easier in my mind as a voter to hear the message of the Democrats,” she said, adding that she has switched parties and is now a registered Democrat.

In this race, Albi favored Clinton all along, but also liked Republican Gov. John Kasich.

But she's never agreed with was Donald Trump.

“We are part of a global economy, I don’t care what Donald Trump says -- we can’t retreat from that. That’s just who we are,” Albi said.

She also doesn’t agree with Trump’s stance on immigration. Her father-in-law moved to the United States from a small Italian village that lacked running water. He became a dentist here and practiced for 50 years.

“And his grandkids went to a military academy,” she said. “It's just a true American success story. That is who we are as nation.”