Mike Fernandez has not been shy about his contempt for Donald Trump. The Miami health-care billionaire took out full-page ads in December calling Trump a "narcissistic BULLYionaire" and comparing him to Hitler. In July, the Cleveland Plain Dealer refused to print Fernandez's latest ad, featuring a scorpion wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat.
But it's still a shock seeing the longtime GOP moneymaker come out with a full-fledged endorsement of Hillary Clinton this morning.
In a Miami Herald op-ed headlined "I'm a Republican, and I'm With Hillary Clinton," Fernandez paints Trump as a racist maniac bent on a dictatorial takeover of the U.S. government.
"As a Republican who has contributed millions of dollars to the party’s causes, I ask: Why has our party not sought a psychological evaluation of its nominee?" he writes in the piece.
There may not be a single moment that better illustrates how thoroughly Trump's brand of white American nativism has alienated the traditionally Republican Hispanic base in South Florida than Fernandez's defection.
Fernandez exemplifies that type of voter. He's a self-made billionaire, a Cuban immigrant who moved to Florida at the age of 9 and later built a health-care empire. He became a top donor to the Republican Party by pouring $3 million into Jeb Bush's Super PAC to back the candidate's failed White House bid. Hell, he even tried to build the world's tallest American flag in downtown Miami.
But Fernandez says Trump's takeover of the GOP has left him out in the cold. He tangled early with Trump — his ad in December called for primary voters to reject the real-estate magnate. Trump was upset enough about that one to threaten Fernandez with a lawsuit, a tactic that doesn't work so well when the guy you're threatening is also a billionaire. Fernandez posted the threat letter in full:
Still, Fernandez's letter today goes a lot further than the #NeverTrump motto that other Jeb Bush acolytes have been banding around — and a hell of a lot further than Marco Rubio, who flipped at light speed from trashing Trump to telling Republican voters to back the Donald at the polls.
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Fernandez writes today that Trump would bring out the worst in America:
This abysmally unfit candidate has unleashed racist and violent acts. There has been no need for dog whistles. The call to brand entire religions and countries as unworthy and despicable, and the call for profoundly un-American practices, including asking the honorable men and women serving our country in the military to engage in the profoundly dishonorable task of torturing human beings and killing innocent families, has been open and unequivocal. The very worst in our society, the Klan and the neo-Nazis, revel in this horrific rhetoric.
And he calls on fellow Republicans to vote for Clinton in November.
The real question for Fernandez, though, is whether he'll put his money up alongside his very loud platform. Will his politically generous wallet now open for the Democratic nominee?