Francis Rooney said he was unsure whether he would support Donald Trump, and tried to distance himself from the GOP frontrunner.
In a March 15 interview with NPR, Rooney, a Naples Republican and the former ambassador to the Holy See, said the “amount of anger and frustration over the last … seven years and two months of President Obama have brought out some forces that I don’t believe we fully understand.”
“Trump seems to be reflecting a lot of them,” said Rooney, who has been mentioned as a possible 2016 U.S. Senate contender. “What I hope are more moderate voices that have more thought through policies would also be considered by the electorate as a way to deal with the problems we face.”
Rooney supported Gov. Jeb Bush‘s presidential bid, and is a top fundraiser for the Bush family and other Republican candidates. But in the March 15 interview with NPR, it did not appear that Trump could be counting Rooney as a backer anytime soon.
“We’re dealing with anger. It’s nothing but anger. Anger and frustration. But we’re all frustrated, at least maybe people of my ideology are frustrated. But frustration and anger can translate itself in many ways. And none of our candidates, other than Trump, have been able to convert that anger and frustration into votes,” he said.
When asked why he thought Trump has been so successful, Rooney said he thinks “there’s a bit of demagoguery in it.”
“Anger and demagoguery go together,” he said. “You look at 1935, 1936 Germany. You look at things when people are under great duress and flock to the strong men.”
Rooney followed up by saying when he talked about 1936, he talks about the frustration people feel. He also said he would “have to think about it,” when asked whether he would support Trump if he is the nominee.
Rooney has been mentioned as a possible contender in the 2016 race to replace Marco Rubio in the United States Senate. Rooney, according to POLITICO Florida, was expected to meet with Republican operatives earlier this month to discuss a potential run.
In January, Rooney told FloridaPolitics.com that he wasn’t considering a bid. At the time, he said he was focused on helping Bush.