Marino is the fifth member of Congress to declare support for Trump.
Rep. Tom Marino, a Republican from the northeastern corner of Pennsylvania, is jumping on the Trump train.
Marino on Monday became the fifth sitting member of Congress to publicly throw his support to Donald Trump, as the Republican front-runner rolls toward Super Tuesday. In an exclusive interview Monday with POLITICO, Marino, a former prosecutor, said Trump has “overwhelming support” in his district because “he’s the man for the unprotected … not the protected, not for the Wall Street people, not for the DC insiders, but for the hard-working taxpayers.”
The congressman called endorsing Trump “one of my life-changing moments” — along with quitting his job at 30 to go to college and law school, adopting his children, and deciding to run for Congress in 2010.
The Pennsylvanian shrugged off suggestions that Trump would damage the Republican Party’s electoral prospects in November, or that Trump’s own recent statements would damage him. “There will be many people now who say that if Trump’s [the nominee], I’m not going to vote,” Marino said. “And that’s just emotion at this point.”
“Donald Trump is saying what the voters agree on and what the voters are feeling,” Marino said, adding that voters are angry at the political system generally.
“How’s it going for us now?” Marino asked rhetorically. “Over the last 20 years, over the last Republican and Democrat presidents, senators as presidents, governors as president, career politicians as president.”
Marino contrasted Trump’s startling success this primary season with an event several years ago that he said epitomized the disdain Washington elites have for average voters. During debate on a border security bill nearly two years ago, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi allegedly told Marino he was “insignificant.”
Marino said he wasn’t courted by Trump or anyone else, nor is he looking for anything from Trump. “No one’s courted me,” he said. “I’m just a third term congressman from rural Pennsylvania.”
He joins Republican Reps. Duncan Hunter (Calif.) and Chris Collins (N.Y.) and Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.) in officially endorsing Trump, while Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) declared Monday that he voted for Trump in his state’s primary.
Trump has come under heavy fire in the last two days for not immediately renouncing former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke’s support in a TV interview. But Marino, citing Trump’s daughter Ivanka’s religion, said Trump isn’t racist.
“Trump’s daughter, who converted to Judaism in 2009 — I don’t think Trump has any feelings and concerns about the KKK, other than he doesn’t like them,” Marino said. “He renounces them and given the fact that he supported his daughter in that move shows that.”
Sunday’s comments weren’t the first that could come back to bite Trump in a general election, though. He kicked off his campaign with inflammatory remarks about Mexican immigrants, and Trump has repeatedly insulted women and other groups on the campaign trail.
Marino said it won’t be a problem. “He’s working very hard on that and I think he’s going to pick up more minorities,” Marino said. “Is he going to run away with overwhelming percentages? Probably not but he doesn’t need overwhelming percentages.”
Nor is Marino concerned with any negative fallout from endorsing Trump. “I’m a prosecutor, I’ve been threatened by drug dealers, organized crime … Nothing here matches that,” Marino said. He also shrugged off the allegations that Trump himself had organized crime ties through past construction projects.
“They tried to spread around that I was involved in organized crime because I have a vowel at the end of my name,” Marino said.