A RINO (Republican in Name Only) is an officeholder or candidate who is a member of the Republican Party, but holds views to the political left of most Republican voters. The term "RINO" describes politicians who claim to be Republican but are in fact liberal, and therefore generally debase the winning conservative coalition base of the Republican Party.
RINOs are often Republican only to the extent it serves their own interests, and will abandon conservative principles as soon as it is in their own interests to do so. RINOs often provide support for raising taxes, abortion as a right, gay rights and gun control. Some RINOs have connections with Planned Parenthood or corporations that support goals of population control; other RINOs pay lip service to pro-life values while in practice not advancing those values.
Double standards by RINOs are common: a birther comment by Romney during his campaign was supposedly a "nothing", but Todd Akin's pro-life comment would somehow "absolutely" could cost RINOs control of the U.S. Senate!
RINOs, like Democrats, typically come from states in New England, the Mid-Atlantic; or states on the Left Coast. A less-used term is cafeteria conservative, for a person who picks and chooses which conservative principles to believe, as a person might choose foods in a cafeteria instead of ordering the full-course menu selected by the chef at most restaurants. In contrast to RINO's and cafeteria conservatives, movement conservatives understand that since conservative philosophy is a coherent whole, it is untenable to discard part of it without discarding all of it.
The targets of attack argue they follow middle of the road policies and are not liberals; they claim they get results, and insist that without them the Congress would be totally controlled by liberal Democrats and Republicans would rarely have any success. Conservatives respond that in the heyday of "Rockefeller liberalism" in the GOP the Democrats always controlled Congress, and the GOP only took power when Newt Gingrich launched a national conservative "Contract with America" in 1994, ending 40 years of Democratic control of the House.
In recent Republican primaries, voters have been rejecting establishment RINOs in favor of those with stronger conservative principles. Their commitment to self and not party is evident in their refusal to endorse the candidate that beats them. In some instances, they refuse the will of the voters and their party by running for office on an independent ticket. It is important to vote for someone who's more conservative on the issues rather than for a Republican because anyone can join a party and be they can be RINOs.
- Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood
- Rep. Don Young of Alaska
- Rep. David Dreier of California
- Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts after his support of gutting Arizona's immigration law and yet being the swing vote responsible for keeping Obamacare upheld. As Supreme Court Justices officially have no party, he is more of a "conservative in name only".
Former or Defeated RINOs
- Jon Bruning, who lost a double-digit lead in a stunning upset for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Nebraska in 2012.
- Former President Theodore Roosevelt, because he regulated the economy and used social justice.
- Former Governor and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey
- Former Secretary of State Colin Powell
- Former Press Secretary Scott McClellan
- Former New York Congressional Candidate Dede Scozzafava
Former RINOs who have since left the Republican Party
- Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson supports same-sex marriage and abortion (although he opposes abortion once the fetus becomes viable outside the mother's body). After switching to the Libertarian Party in 2012 to run for President, he openly admitted that he governed New Mexico for eight years as a RINO, even using the phrase "Republican in name only" on multiple occasions. The Libertarian Party is liberal on social issues (with the exception that they support gun rights) but are fiscally very conservative.
- Former Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania supported ObamaCare and switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party to give the latter a 60-40 edge in the Senate and allow them to enact cloture on the Republican filibuster.
- Former Senator Lowell Weicker of Connecticut, who left the party and formed his own local one in 1990, then became an Independent in 1995.
- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who became an Independent in 2007. As it is not possible to campaign as an Independent in New York State, Bloomberg runs on the line of the Independence Party of New York.
- Former Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont, who left the Party and became a Democrat in 2001, giving control of the Senate to the Democrats.
- Former Governor Charlie Crist of Florida, who became an independent in 2010 after it was clear he would lose his Senate bid. Crist joined the Democratic Party in 2012.
- Former Representative John Anderson of Illinois, who became an Independent after losing his party's presidential primary in 1980.
- Former Governor Buddy Roemer of Louisiana, who became an Independent after losing his party's presidential primary in 2012.
A majority of conservatives distrust RINO John McCain even though many of his policies are that of a true conservative. Key RINO principles rejected by McCain include support for gay rights, support for abortion, and support for earmarks. He has positioned his career as a bipartisan moderate, reaching across the aisle whenever possible. This is also his downfall. The era of reaching across the aisle passed -- when statist, socialist Democrats became Senators. His major political blunders mostly came during the 21st century political period. He was against both the Reagan and Bush tax cuts, and employed class warfare rhetoric in trying to stop the tax cuts from taking effect. His support for amnesty was the complete opposite of what conservatives wanted. He has always complained about enhanced interrogation techniques, calling them "torture". In non-election years, he likes to trash conservative positions and icons in order to get the media's and Democrats' approval. However, during the election he refused to go after Barack Hussein Obama's associations with Jeremiah Wright. He believes in the junk science known as global warming, and has supported cap-and-trade programs. Another Middle East war, without a goal, without full commitment to win, without Congressional approval- McCain supports the President. It didn't stop there and in July 2011, he called the Tea Party, the people that care about fiscal sanity in Washington, they are "hobbits".
The sacrifices he has made serving this country cannot be overlooked. John McCain has earned war hero status but also the status as a D.C. zero.
- RINO Backers
- PLINO - pro-life in name only
- XINO - Christian in name only
- Republican Party
- Moderate Republican
- Conservative Democrat
- Blue Dog Democrat
- Reagan Democrat
- Catholic in name only
- Liberal media conservative