A group of Republican former U.S. national security officials plan to publicly endorse Biden in the coming weeks, Reuters reported Wednesday.
Dozens of Republican former U.S. national security officials plan to endorse Joe Biden for president, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
The former officials will form a group and unveil their public endorsement in the coming weeks. Members of the group—which includes at least two dozen officials who served under Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush—also plan to campaign on Biden’s behalf, arguing that a second Trump term would put U.S. national security at risk. They plan to encourage Republicans to vote for Biden, despite policy differences, according to Reuters.
The group is reportedly being led by John Bellinger III and Ken Wainstein, both of whom held senior roles under George W. Bush. Bellinger served as legal adviser to the National Security Council and State Department, and Wainstein served as Bush’s homeland security adviser and as chief of staff to former FBI Director Robert Mueller.
“Trump pals around with dictators. He’s a real danger,” a person involved in the group told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The formation of the group comes as Trump’s re-election prospects have dimmed due to his handling of the coronavirus crisis and his response to the nationwide protests following the police killing of George Floyd. A New York Times/Siena College poll released Wednesday found Biden leading Trump by 14 points among registered voters, 50-36. That mirrors the results of other recent polls, including a Fox News Poll that found Biden up by 12 points.
Bellinger, Wainstein and Blackwill previously expressed opposition to Trump. They were among a group of about 50 Republicans who signed an August 2016 letter warning of the risks of a Trump presidency and announcing that they would not vote for him. By going public with their support of Biden, they join a growing list of prominent Republicans who’ve jumped ship and denounced Trump and/or endorsed Biden.
Those names include:
- Former secretary of state and Republican Colin Powell, who endorsed Biden earlier this month and said Trump has “drifted away” from the Constitution and poses a threat to Democracy.
- Trump’s former secretary of defense and retired four-star Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, who published a scathing denunciation of Trump earlier this month: “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try.”
- Trump’s former chief of staff, retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, said earlier this month that he agreed with Mattis’ statement and that “we need to look harder at who we elect.”
- Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah has made clear that he will not vote for Trump this November.
- Former Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona has said he will not vote for Trump and is considering publicly announcing his support for Biden.
- Cindy McCain, the widow of former Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, is “almost certain to support Mr. Biden,” according to the New York Times. Her daughter and co-host of The View, Meghan McCain, has also indicated she will vote for Biden.
- Rick Wilson, John Weaver, Steve Schmidt, and George Conway, a group of formerly influential Republican campaign strategists, lawyers, and media figures who formed an anti-Trump organization dubbed the Lincoln Project, have endorsed Biden.
- Conservative commentator George Will wrote a scathing op-ed about Trump in the Washington Post this month, calling for Trump to be “removed” from the presidency.
The list is likely to grow even longer in the coming months. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said recently that she is “struggling” with whether to vote for Trump. John Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser, said this week that Trump was unfit to be president and that he would not be voting for him.
The U.S. defense community has also ramped up its criticisms of Trump. A bipartisan group of 89 former defense department officials took to the pages of the Washington Post earlier this month to criticize Trump’s threat to use the U.S. military against protesters. Some of those defense officials—including former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel—have also endorsed Biden.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley has also publicly apologized for his presence at Trump’s controversial photo op on June 1, which saw law enforcement violently clear protesters from Lafayette Square so that Trump could walk from the White House to St. John’s Church to be photographed holding a bible. “I should not have been there,” Milley said.
While Milley has not publicly endorsed Biden, a member of the new group told Reuters that his statement was still critical. “Powell, Mattis, Milley – they have galvanized people to support Joe Biden,” the person involved in the new group told Reuters.
Trump has repeatedly attacked Republicans who’ve dared oppose him. In a tweet last year, he derided such “Never Trumper Republicans” as “human scum.”
It’s not just influential Republicans who are abandoning Trump. Republican voters also appear to be jumping ship. Senior citizens, once a reliable Republican voting block, have also shifted to Biden, and a significant number of white Christians also appear to be drifting from the president.
If that holds come November, the “Never Trumper Republicans” may get their wish and make Donald Trump a one-term president.