Meg Whitman, president and CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, is fast becoming a key voice in the effort by some in the Republican Party to push back against presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Whitman, a GOP mega-donor and a player in national politics for the party, reportedly compared Trump to Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini during a private gathering of Republican donors and politicians over the weekend, and at the same event grilled House Speaker Paul Ryan about his reluctant endorsement of the billionaire New York developer. She also implied that Democratic presumptive nominee and longtime GOP foe Hillary Clinton could be the better choice for president.
Whitman’s comments, first reported by The Washington Post, came during former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s annual closed-door summit in Utah.
Trump, who has no experience in politics, has torn asunder unity within the GOP since entering the race a year ago with a series of remarks that attack minorities, women and immigrants. Most recently, he has repeatedly accused the judge overseeing two lawsuits involving the billionaire’s Trump University of being biased against him because he is Mexican. The judge is actually a U.S. citizen of Mexican heritage. Many Republicans have roundly criticized Trump for his comments—Ryan called them the “textbook definition” of racism—but most also continue to endorse him, calling him a better alternative than Clinton.
Trump also has many worried about some of his comments on international policy—such as the United States leaving NATO or encouraging the proliferation of nuclear armament around the world—as well as his strategy for the general election, including focusing on states like New York and California, which almost always vote Democratic in national elections and are seen as solidly blue.
Whitman has become a high-profile figure in GOP politics. In 2010, she spent more than $140 million of her own money in a losing bid for the California governor’s seat. She was finance co-chair of Romney’s 2012 campaign, and this year backed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential bid. She also harshly criticized Christie after he dropped out of the race in February and threw his support behind Trump.
“Donald Trump is unfit to be President,” Whitman wrote in a statement at the time. “He is a dishonest demagogue who plays to our worst fears. Trump would take America on a dangerous journey. Christie knows all that and indicated as much many times publicly. The Governor is mistaken if he believes he can now count on my support, and I call on Christie’s donors and supporters to reject the Governor and Donald Trump outright. I believe they will. For some of us, principle and country still matter.”
She also has contributed money to the #NeverTrump effort to derail his nomination and supported the Our Principle anti-Trump super PAC, and has indicated that Trump’s continued racist comments give Republicans the cover needed to move away from him. Whitman reportedly has said the decision in front of voters is about putting the country’s best interests above the party’s, and implied to ABC News that she could vote for Clinton over Trump.
“I haven’t made that decision,” she told the news organization. “We’ll see, get to the conventions, see who the vice presidential picks are. And then I will make that decision.”