While he does not support Donald Trump’s controversial statements, they shouldn't be taken at face value, says the head of Republicans Overseas Germany. He also thinks that as a nominee Trump would need to change course.
DW: As a Republican living abroad, what's your take on the state of your party's presidential race?
Thomas W. Leiser: It's gotten a lot of interest from most voters. In particular the Republican Party seems to have seen a tremendous upsurge in the number of people voting - double the historic numbers. To that extent, if one is a Republican that is a positive thing. The Democrats on the other hand seem to have lost a good portion of their normal voter turnout.
The reason why the Republican race is gaining so much attention is, of course because of Donald Trump. His success has deeply split the Republican Party. While he garnered the most votes among primary voters, he is resented by the party's establishment who is still looking for ways to stop him. Where do you and Republicans living in Germany stand on this?
Our official stance is we remain neutral until a candidate has been chosen. And as of this moment no candidate has enough delegates to be called the nominee. Our job as Republicans Overseas is to bring out the vote and inform people on different positions and so on and we continue to do that. Maybe by next week one or the other candidate will have enough delegates to know that he is the nominee or it could end up that no one is the nominee at the beginning of the convention. Who knows?
Current Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has made many controversial statements such as he wants to build a wall on the border with Mexico and ban Muslims from entering the US.
Can you and other Republicans here in Germany support a candidate with these ideas?
I think candidates make a lot of claims before they become official candidates. I look at the claim to build a wall as just something to say to people. I think physically it's impossible to do and the cost would be outrageous as best I can tell. And the minute you build a wall it is sort of like the Siegfried or Maginot lines, somebody goes around it or builds a ladder that's 5 feet taller than the wall and climbs over. I just don't see that a wall would do much good and I am not so sure anybody believes that's what really will happen.
But don't you think that Trump's comments and statements hurt the Republican Party?
They are not statements I would make. I think in the final candidacy you will get the real statements. I think at this point they are a little more inflammatory than I would like them to be, but some people seem to relish that. I am not so sure why.
Donald Trump's campaign and his outrageous statements make international headlines. Are you often approached by Germans about him and if so what do you tell them?
As of today, it is still very easy to say. He is not the candidate yet. When he is the candidate then we have to hear what he really says. Now to me it's all a bunch of hype.
If he were the candidate, could you support him?
Depending on how he changes some of these outrageous comments, I think he will get support. If he continues with "build a wall," "keep out all Muslims" and "deport 11 million people," I think a lot of people may chose not to. But in general a Republican usually supports the nominee of his party.
Thomas W. Leiser is the chairman of Republicans Overseas Germany.
The interview was conducted by Michael Knigge.