Ex-defense secretary for Trump says former president is ‘unfit for office’


Mark Esper
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper delivers a statement on Iraq, at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Palm Beach, Fla. Evan Vucci/AP

Ex-defense secretary for Trump says former president is ‘unfit for office’

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Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper thinks former President Donald Trump is “unfit for office” and that the GOP should look elsewhere for a primary candidate.

Esper said of Trump he “wishes he wouldn’t” run for office after the former president announced his 2024 candidacy on Tuesday night in Mar-a-Lago.

“I think he’s unfit for office,” he said in an interview with CNN. “I thought his remarks were very subdued and uninspiring.”

He added that he hopes the Republican Party will turn its attention to a different candidate rather than backing Trump again.

“I think that its time for the Republican Party, and frankly, both parties, to move on to a next generation of leaders, and particularly leaders that can unify our country and get us back to a more normal governance where we treat each other with dignity and respect, and we work on policy issues and not personal attacks,” Esper said.


Esper joins a growing list of GOP members who blame Trump for the substantial losses the party suffered in the 2022 midterm elections. Republicans, expecting a “red wave” to take over the nation, did not strike as hard as projected as the Democrats secured their majority in the Senate and gained more seats in the House than predicted.

In swing states, many Trump-endorsed candidates lost their races, including Blake Masters (R-AZ) and Don Bolduc (R-NH) for the Senate and Kari Lake (R-AZ) and Tudor Dixon (R-MI) for governor. Esper said the poor track record should be a wake-up call for Republicans, as there was “no reason” why the GOP shouldn’t have had a bigger margin in the House and taken the Senate in the midterm contests.

“The election last week is an example that Donald Trump is incapable of winning elections,” Esper said. “He’s done more to help the Democrats than the Republicans.”

The former defense secretary said the party should look at Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) as a primary candidate, calling him the “front-runner” for the Republican nomination.

“[He] is at the top of the list right now,” Esper said, per the Daily Mail. “He did a great job in Florida.”

DeSantis experienced several personal and state victories in last week’s elections, securing reelection after beating Charlie Crist in a 20-percentage-point landslide. Florida Republicans’ wins in the House, though expected due to redistricting that favored Republican candidates, were heavily celebrated. The GOP will hold 20 of Florida’s 28 seats in the House.


Esper said Trump is unfit for office because he continuously puts himself before the country.

“To me, that’s shortcoming number one, and then I believe he has integrity and character issues as well,” he said. “I don’t think he’s an honest person. We saw the falsehoods that came out of his remarks last night. … Americans need a leader they can trust.”

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