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Some prominent California Trump backers have buyer’s remorse

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), left, greets then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign rally at the San Diego Convention Center on May 27.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), left, greets then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign rally at the San Diego Convention Center on May 27.
(John Gastaldo / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Two of Donald Trump’s most high-profile supporters in Congress have a case of buyer’s remorse.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) said he’d like to “redo” the entire primary process without Trump as a candidate. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine), one of the first members of the House to back Trump, warned of an attempt to block Trump as the Republican Party’s presidential nominee and of potential violence at the GOP national convention in July.

Issa blamed President Obama, in part, for the Trump phenomenon.

“Donald Trump got this job because this president has been so polarizing,” Issa said Monday at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce annual congressional luncheon. “Now that’s not a good reason for the voters to have passed over experienced governors and senators — candidates who in another climate likely would have been thought of much more on what they said they were going to do and their resumes.”

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Neither Trump nor Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders should have done as well as they did in the primaries, but frustration with the Obama administration fueled their candidacies, Issa said.

“It’s a socialist versus an egotist. Neither one of them were particularly people who should have been so far up,” he said.

Issa added that the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also fails her party’s voters because of the investigation of her use of a private email server while leading the State Department.

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“This is a very unusual year. I would love to redo the deck and start over and see who we would pick if we say, ‘You can have those, you have to pick someone experienced,’” said Issa, who initially backed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for the GOP presidential nomination.

Hunter, despite being a Trump delegate, reiterated that he won’t go to his party’s convention in Cleveland next month.

“I think it’s going to be mayhem and riots and hooligans and thugs and police forces. And that’s just the actual convention,” Hunter said at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront.

He said he expects there to be some sort of political battle to change procedures or rules to block Trump’s path to the nomination.

“I think it’s going to be a madhouse, really,” Hunter said.

Hunter and Rep. Chris Collins ( R-N.Y.) were the first two representatives to endorse Trump and subsequently became the candidate’s intermediaries to the House in an attempt to build rapport and support with members. Last week, the Washington Post reported that Hunter said he didn’t always agree with Trump and couldn’t explain some of Trump’s conflicting policy stances.

“Yeah, it’s not my job to answer for Donald Trump,” Hunter said as he spoke with a gaggle of reporters in Washington. “Really. I’m not even a surrogate. I’m just an endorser.”

Rep. Susan A. Davis (D-San Diego) said the political climate during the primary season indicated that people were not satisfied with how Washington works.

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“What we really want is a president who can help make government function again,” said Davis, a Clinton supporter.

Davis and Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego), who also backs Clinton, said they expect their candidate to be elected president.

“Whoever the president is -- I guess the betting money is on Secretary Clinton -- I hope they take the opportunity to recognize that people are frustrated with a D.C. that is not working together,” Peters said.

Neither Hunter nor Issa made any statement at the luncheon indicating that they believe Trump will win November’s election.

Rep. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego), the fifth member of San Diego County’s House delegation, was not at the event.

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