Generally, I hate the word RINO. In modern political discourse it serves no purpose other than as an insult hurled at someone with whom the speaker disagrees. Accordingly, I try to use it as sparingly as possible and only when it truly applies – when someone really is a Republican in name only.
Let me illustrate. People frequently use the word “RINO” as a pejorative against moderates, but that’s not really accurate. Take a guy like Mark Kirk for instance. Kirk is a squishy guy who can really infuriate you with his votes at times, but Kirk is a loyal guy to the Republican party.
I mean, he needs to get re-elected now and then and so he casts votes with which I strongly disagree, but Kirk is not going to go out and openly endorse a Democrat, hold pressers with Democrats where he bashes Republicans, or bail for the Democratic party if things get too difficult. Kirk is a moderate, but not a RINO.