High-Profile GOP Donor Meg Whitman Indicates She Is Likely to Support Hillary Clinton, Say Sources

At Mitt Romney's closed-door summit, the CEO expressed disdain for Donald Trump.

ByABC News
June 11, 2016, 12:57 AM
Hewlett Packard Enterprise President and Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman is interviewed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, Nov. 2, 2015.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise President and Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman is interviewed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, Nov. 2, 2015.
AP Photo/Richard Drew

PARK CITY, UTAH -- Republican donor Meg Whitman, the high-profile Hewlett PackardEnterprise president and CEO, indicated at Mitt Romney's closed-door summit on Friday that she would likely be supporting Hillary Clinton in November, according to multiple sources who were in the room.

"She posed the question, 'Is it not reasonable to support Hillary Clinton?' given all the awful things Trump has said," explained donor John Chachas.

Whitman served as Romney's finance co-chair in 2012.

But asked if she was switching over to the other side, Whitman told ABC News, "I haven't made that decision. We’ll see, get to the conventions, see who the vice presidential picks are. And then I will make that decision." Her office declined to comment further when asked.

She backed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during the primary season and criticized him for his subsequent support of Donald Trump.

Whitman's words come as a majority of Romney loyalists -- many of whom spearheaded the "Never Trump" movement -- are facing tough decisions about who to back this cycle. Romney himself has been one of Trump's most outspoken critics, and has openly declared he would not be voting for the presumptive GOP presidential candidate.

And on Friday, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee told CNN that a Trump presidency would change America with "trickle-down racism, trickle-down bigotry, trickle-down misogyny," adding "all these things are extraordinarily dangerous to the heart and character of America."

Donors say they've come to the annual Romney retreat in Park City, Utah, looking for guidance from top Republicans attending the event, including Speaker Paul Ryan and Republican party chairman Reince Priebus.

"These guys are a lot smarter than I am, and if they’re endorsing [Trump], that's kind of reassuring to me,” said Scott Keller, a donor from Utah who was at the summit and has decided to back Trump.Whitman, meanwhile, indicated she would likely vote for Clinton, but made no mention of actually donating to the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Still, some prominent Republican donors here were in shock.

"I see Meg Whitman supporting Clinton, and I’m surprised about that. I love and respect Meg Whitman but, my gosh," said Keller.

Keller added, however, that the "right thing" to do is to go vote for someone. Keller said that’s why he's planning to back Trump -- although he was reluctant to do so initially.

Two sources in the room said Whitman also compared Trump to historical demagogues, including Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. She then turned to Ryan to ask him how he could support Trump.

Ryan responded by saying he had party obligations as speaker of the House of Representatives, said the sources inside the room.

According to long-time Romney confidante, Spencer Zwick, Ryan was asked about his recent endorsement of Trump during his own speech at the summit but "said nothing new."

"He mostly talked about his agenda," Zwick said, adding: "I think a lot of people, they're tired talking about Trump University. They want to talk about policy and a path forward."

Whitman has previously gone on the record saying she wouldn't be voting for Trump.

"Look at the comments he's made about women, about Muslims, about reporters, it's just repugnant," she told CNBC in March.

According to Jim and Joanne, a couple from Southern California who declined to provide their last names, Whitman isn't the only donor here considering Clinton. The summit attendees took an informal poll at lunch, with the room splitting evenly among Trump and Clinton supporters, they said.