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Democratic Convention video: John McCain
Cindy McCain voices a video about the decades-long friendship between Joe Biden and her late husband, Sen. John McCain.
WASHINGTON – Dozens of prominent Republicans have publicly endorsed or shown support for former vice president and Democratic nominee Joe Biden instead of their party’s incumbent, President Donald Trump.
They include elected officials, former Trump administration officials and other prominent Republicans who have slammed Trump for everything from a “bungled” response to the coronavirus pandemic, “terrifying” national security approaches and general divisiveness in the country.
Also Tuesday came the influential endorsement of Cindy McCain, wife of the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
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Democrats have worked to use this as an advantage, trying to show Biden as the unifying candidate who can appeal to not just Democrats.
Several Republicans spoke at the Democratic National Convention in August, with a few clumped together in a segment called “We The People Putting Country Over Party.”
Hours before Biden gave his acceptance speech at the DNC, more than 70 senior officials who served under Republican administrations signed a letter calling Trump “unfit to lead” while outlining their support for Biden.
And a group of 27 former Republican lawmakers announced their support for Biden in the middle of the Republican National Convention a few weeks ago.
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Earlier this month, Biden was endorsed by a group called “Republicans and Independents for Biden”, which consists of nearly 100 former lawmakers.
Here are some well known Republicans who have either endorsed or shown support for Biden in some capacity, and some who have just said they will not support Trump:
Endorsed or expressed support
In an interview with The Arizona Republic, McCain avoided directly criticizing Trump, who had a stormy rivalry with her husband that lingered even after his death in 2018.
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Instead, she said her endorsement is in part attributable to the character she sees in Biden, a longtime friend of the family who, like her, is a parent to troops who have served the United States in the military.
“I’m like everybody else: I like a good leader and I feel like right now the president doesn’t have my back, he doesn’t take a stand on things that are really important and we have a time of crisis,” Cindy McCain said. “I’m worried that this could go further than it should. My point in getting on board with Joe is that he’s proven — he’s been there. I’ve known him for 40 years. I know his character and his leadership and his honor and his integrity and those things are very important to me.”
Her official endorsement follows a few weeks after a pre-recorded video aired at the DNC where she highlighted the late senator’s close friendship with Biden. That video did not contain an explicit endorsement of Biden over Trump.
McCain, along with her daughter, TV commentator Meghan McCain, have been at times outspoken critics against the president.
Meghan McCain suggested in April she’d be voting for Biden after he helped her grieve the loss of her father, saying “it really shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to know there’s one man who has made pain in my life a living hell and another man who has literally shepherded me through the grief process. This really shouldn’t be rocket science for people.”
Former Pence staffer Olivia Troye
A former adviser to Vice President Mike Pence who worked on the pandemic response has come out against Trump’s handling of the coronavirus and said she will vote for Biden.
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Olivia Troye, who departed the White House in August after serving as homeland security and counter-terrorism adviser to Pence, said in a new video released Thursday by Republican Voters Against Trump that the president’s main concern in his coronavirus response was his re-election.
“If the president had taken this virus seriously or if he had actually made an effort to tell how serious it was, he would’ve slowed the virus spread. He would’ve saved lives,” Troye said, claiming Trump “doesn’t actually care about anyone but himself.”
Troye, who told The Washington Post she helped organize and attended all the coronavirus task force meetings, said she is a lifetime Republican who voted for her party’s presidential candidate in every election until 2016, but will now support Biden because of Trump’s “flat out disregard for human life.”
Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder
“I will continue to support and stand up for Republican policies and values, and support Republican candidates, but I will not support Donald Trump for reelection,” Snyder said in a USA TODAY op-ed earlier in September. He said the president is a “bully” who “lacks a moral compass” and “ignores the truth.”
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Snyder said he was endorsing Biden, who “has shown the desire to heal a deeply divided nation,” has “demonstrated strong moral character and empathy,” and “seems willing to listen to people who have different perspectives from his own.”
Snyder served two terms as Michigan’s governor, preceding the current Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake
Flake, who has been a harsh critic of Trump, told the Washington Post in an April interview that “This won’t be the first time I’ve voted for a Democrat – though not for president (before). Last time I voted for a third-party candidate. But I will not vote for Donald Trump.”
Flake formally declared his support for Biden along with more than two dozen other lawmakers on Aug, 24 when the Democratic nominee’s campaign launched Republicans for Trump.
Former Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent
Dent didn’t support President Donald Trump in 2016, and told CNN that he was not going to help reelect the president in 2020. Dent said that it’s not about “Right or Left,” but about “right and wrong.”
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“I feel that we need to return some sense of normalcy to the function of government,” Dent told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “We simply don’t have that now. And that’s why I’m going to be voting for Joe Biden for President.”
Dent, a moderate Republican, retired in May 2018 from Congress. In his farewell speech to Congress, Dent lamented that “too many Republicans expect unquestioning — blind, unquestioning — loyalty and obedience to President Trump, no matter how absurd or disruptive the comment or behavior.”
Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich
Kasich, who ran against Trump in the 2016 Republican primaries, headlined the opening night at the DNC.
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Kasich has long been critical of Trump and started his remarks by standing at the intersection of two gravel roads, noting the country was at a crossroads.
“Sometimes elections represent a real choice, the choice we make as individuals and as a nation about which path we want to take when we’ve come to challenging times,” he said. “America is at that crossroads today.”
He noted that he was a proud Republican and has disagreements with some of Biden’s policies, but those differences were part of the fabric of America’s political system.
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Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman
Todd Whitman also spoke briefly on the first day of the the DNC, saying this year’s election “isn’t about a Republican or Democrat. It’s about a person: a person decent enough, stable enough, strong enough to get our economy back on track; a person who can work with everyone, Democrats and Republicans, to get things done.”
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A lifelong Republican, Whitman has condemned Trump for his policies and actions while in office. She has called him “unfit” for democracy, compared him to dictators, supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 and regularly criticizes him on Twitter.
She served as New Jersey’s governor before being selected in 2001 by Republican President George W. Bush to head the Environmental Protection Agency.
Former New York Rep. Susan Molinari
Molinari also spoke on the opening night of the DNC, saying, “I’m a former Republican member of Congress for New York City, and I’ve known Donald Trump for most of my political career. So disappointing, and lately, so disturbing.”
Molinari was a member of Congress from 1990 to 1997, and also served as the vice chair of the House Republican Caucus. She gave the keynote speech at the 1996 GOP Convention.
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Biden’s “a really good man, and he’s exactly what this nation needs at this time,” Molinari said.
Miles Taylor, former senior Trump administration official
Taylor is one of the highest-ranking former officials from the Trump administration to back Biden.
Taylor, who served as chief of staff to former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen until he left in 2019, was featured in a video produced by the Republican Voters Against Trump, saying what he saw from Trump “was terrifying.”
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In the video, Taylor stated, “Given what I have experienced in the administration, I have to support Joe Biden for president. And even though I am not a Democrat, even though I disagree on key issues, I’m confident that Joe Biden will protect the country and I’m confident that he won’t make the same mistakes as this President.”
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell
Powell, former secretary of state to President W. Bush spoke at the second night of the DNC, saying Biden “will be a president we will all be proud to salute.”
“With Joe Biden in the White House, you will never doubt that he will stand with our friends and stand up to our adversaries – never the other way around,” Powell said. “He will trust our diplomats and our intelligence community, not the flattery of dictators and despots.”
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Powell has been an outspoken critic of Trump, calling him “dangerous for our democracy” in June.
Former Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman
A Silicon Valley CEO and one-time Republican gubernatorial candidate for California, Whitman also addressed convention watchers.
“I’m a longtime Republican and a longtime CEO,” Whitman said. “And let me tell you, Donald Trump has no clue how to run a business, let alone an economy.”
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She continued, “Joe Biden, on the other hand, has a plan that will strengthen our economy for working people and small business owners.”
Whitman, who is the current CEO of Quibi, gave $500,000 to the Biden Victory Fund at the end of June, campaign finance records show.
Former GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina
Fiorina said in June she would be voting for Biden instead of Trump in November.
“I’ve been very clear that I can’t support Donald Trump. And, you know, elections are binary choices,” Fiorina, who voted for Trump in 2016, told The Atlantic. When pressed whether she would vote for Biden, Fiorina replied, “I’m not voting for Trump, but it’s a binary choice. So if faced with a binary choice on a ballot: yes.”
“I think this moment calls upon Joe Biden to be a leader. I am encouraged that Joe Biden is a person of humility and empathy and character. I think he’s demonstrated that through his life,” she said.
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Former Hawaii Rep. Charles Djou
Djou, who served eight months in the House from 2010 to 2011, endorsed Biden in July.
Djou said he was “abandoning” Trump, calling his leadership style “unhealthy for the Republican party, and is damaging to our American democracy.”
Former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh
Walsh unsuccessfully ran against Trump in the Republican primary, but said when he dropped out of the race in February he would support a Democrat for president over Trump because, “This is such a unique moment in time where we are going to be forced to support any Democrat because he’s better than this.”
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In March, he tweeted he “just voted in the Democratic Primary for the very 1st time. I voted for Joe Biden.”
Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld
Weld, who also ran against Trump in the primary, said in October, “Could I vote for a Democrat? Hell yes. If it’s Trump against Joe Biden, I’m with Biden in a heartbeat.”
Former Virginia Sen. John Warner
Warner, who was a five-term Republican from Virginia, endorsed Biden over Trump in March, declaring that the former vice president is “thoroughly tested.”
“We’re not taking a gamble as we did with Trump,” he said.
Warner was among the 27 Republicans for Biden who declared their support on Aug. 24.
Members of The Lincoln Project
A group of conservative critics of Trump – including George Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway – launched a political action committee aimed at stopping his reelection.
The group called the Lincoln Project includes conservative attorney Conway; former adviser to Sen. John McCain Steve Schmidt; former Kasich adviser John Weaver; former New Hampshire Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Horn; and conservative pundit Rick Wilson.
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The group has endorsed Biden and is known for its ads that attack Trump on a number of issues.
‘Republicans and Independents for Biden’
The new group is led by Gov. Whitman, and said its “sole mission is to defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden the next President of the United States.”
The Republican group includes a handful of former governors Snyder and Weld.
According to Reuters, the group plans to campaign, buy advertisements and place opinion pieces in local and national media outlets showing support for Biden.
This group will be funded by The Lincoln Project.
‘Republicans for Biden’ endorsement during RNC
Twenty-seven former Republican lawmakers endorsed Biden on Aug. 24, the day Republicans sought out to officially nominate Trump, including Flake, Warner, Dent, Djou, Molinari and Walsh.
“In a strong rebuke to the current administration, these former members of Congress cited Trump’s corruption, destruction of democracy, blatant disregard for moral decency, and urgent need to get the country back on course as a reason why they support Biden,” the Biden campaign said in a statement announcing their support.
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The others announcing their support for Biden were ex-Sen. Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire and Reps. Steve Bartlett of Texas, Bill Clinger of Pennsylvania, Tom Coleman of Missouri, Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma, Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland, Jim Greenwood of Pennsylvania, Bob Inglis of South Carolina, Jim Kolbe of Arizona, Steve Kuykendall of California, Ray LaHood of Illinois, Jim Leach of Iowa, Connie Morella of Maryland, Mike Parker of Mississippi, Jack Quinn of New York, Claudine Schneider of Rhode Island, Christopher Shays of Connecticut, Peter Smith of Vermont, Alan Steelman of Texas, Bill Whitehurst of Virginia and Dick Zimmer of New Jersey.
Hundreds of former McCain staff members
Over 100 former staff members for McCain endorsed Biden in a letter, most of them still identifying as Republicans. Mark Salter, Mr. McCain’s longtime chief aide and speechwriter, helped organize the letter.
“We have different views of Joe Biden and the Democratic Party platform — most of us will disagree with a fair amount of it — but we all agree that getting Donald Trump out of office is clearly in the national interest,” Mark Salter, McCain’s longtime chief aide and speechwriter, wrote.
Have expressed they are not supporting Trump
Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele
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Steele, who served as RNC chairman from 2009 to 2011, became the latest anti-Trump Republican to join the Lincoln Project, saying, “The chair behind the Resolute Desk has always been bigger than any political party.”
He continued, “Sadly, we have witnessed its occupant devolve into preying upon Digital fears and resentments with narcissism that nurtures only chaos and confusion.”
Steele did not vote for Trump in 2016, and often posts critical tweets about the president.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott
Scott said he “won’t be voting for President Trump” in November, and has “not decided, at this point, whether to cast a vote for former Vice President Biden, but it’s something that I would consider.”
The Vermont Republican also has said he did not vote for Trump in 2016, and stated during the president’s Senate impeachment trial he believed Trump “should not be in office.”
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney
Romney has reportedly said he won’t vote for Trump, but hasn’t publicly endorsed Biden, but rather is deliberating whether to write someone else in come November.
Romney has long been critical of the president, and was the only Republican senator to break with his party and vote to convict Trump during his impeachment trial.
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Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski
The Alaskan Republican senator said in June she was struggling over whether she could support the president in November.
She added that she didn’t support Trump in the 2016 election and was struggling with that same decision ahead of November, but said she would continue to work with him and represent her state.
Former Trump Defense Secretary James Mattis
Mattis denounced Trump in June and hammered his former boss as a threat to American democracy following the decision to forcibly clear protesters from a park in front of the White House so Trump could walk across the street and pose with a Bible in front of a historic church.
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“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people – does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us,” he wrote.
Former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton
The president’s former national security adviser Bolton said that while he won’t be voting for his old boss, he still won’t cast a ballot for Biden.
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Rather, Bolton plans to write in “a Republican conservative yet to be determined.”
Contributing: Jeanine Santucci, Christal Hayes, William Cummings, Rebecca Morin, Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY; Dustin Racioppi, Trenton Bureau; Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Arizona Republic;