WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Dozens of former Republican U.S. national security officials are forming a group that will back Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, people familiar with the effort said, in a further sign that President Donald Trump has alienated some members of his own party.
FILE PHOTO: United States Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event dedicated to the reopening of the United States economy during the coronavirus disease pandemic (COVID-19) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, June 11, 2020. REUTERS / Bastiaan Slabbers
The group will publicly endorse Biden in the coming weeks, and its members plan to campaign for the former vice president who challenges Trump in the Nov. 3 election, sources said. It includes at least two dozen officials who served under Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush and George W. Bush, with dozens more in talks to join, the sources added.
They will argue that another four years of a Trump presidency would jeopardize US national security. USA And that Republican voters should see Biden as the best option despite policy differences, the sources said.
The initiative is being led by John Bellinger III and Ken Wainstein, according to the people involved, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Both held high positions under George W. Bush. Bellinger served as legal adviser to the National Security Council and the State Department. Wainstein served as Bush’s national security adviser and as chief of staff to former FBI Director Robert Mueller.
Another member of the group, sources said, is Robert Blackwill, who served as both a foreign policy adviser to Bush and an ambassador to India under George W. Bush. The group includes some independents and officials outside the national security arena, the sources said.
“Trump plays with dictators. It is a real danger, ”said a person involved in the group, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The group could go public before the Democratic National Convention in August, when Biden will formally become his party’s candidate, but a release date has not yet been set, sources said. Opinion polls show Biden with a growing advantage over Trump.
Trump, who did not face significant opposition in seeking his party’s nomination for a second term, has received strong criticism from numerous retired military leaders and former members of his administration in recent weeks. The criticism was sparked by Trump’s calls for a militarized response to protests in American cities against racism and police brutality and its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Other groups of anti-Trump Republicans are also opposed to his reelection, including the Lincoln Project, co-founded by George Conway, husband of Trump’s adviser, Kellyanne Conway. It is running anti-Trump announcements in key battlefield states.
Bellinger, Wainstein and Blackwill have previously voiced opposition to Trump. They were among some 50 Republicans who signed an August 2016 letter after Trump became the Republican presidential candidate, warning of the dangers of a Trump presidency and promising not to vote for him.
Trump has expressed contempt for the Republican and conservative figures who have opposed him, and said on Twitter last year that such “never-winning Republicans” are “human scum.”
‘WIDER POSSIBLE COALITION’
TJ Ducklo, a spokesperson for the Biden campaign, said Trump has mismanaged U.S. foreign policy and damaged relations with foreign allies.
“Joe Biden is running for president to unite this country and undo the chaos of Donald Trump, and we are building the broadest possible coalition to do that, which includes Republicans who are appalled at what they have witnessed in the past four years. “Ducklo said.
Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for the Trump campaign, released a statement that makes apparent reference to Biden’s 2002 vote as an American senator authorizing the Iraq War started the following year by George W. Bush.
“It is not surprising that the same people who gave us endless wars that caused thousands of deaths and billions of dollars wasted in the Middle East side with a warmonger like Joe Biden,” said Murtaugh.
Trump has faced an unusual stream of criticism from members of the military establishment, including prominent retired generals such as James Mattis, his first defense secretary, and Colin Powell, who served as Secretary of State for George W. Bush. Both denounced Trump’s response to protests that erupted after the May 25 death of an African-American man named George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
Also, the current US military officer. The US, Gen. Mark Milley, expressed regret for joining Trump on a walk from the White House to a nearby church after police authorities forcibly drove the protesters out.
“Powell, Mattis, Milley, have pushed people to support Joe Biden,” said the person involved in the new group.
Powell has already endorsed Biden, saying Trump has “strayed” from the United States Constitution and represents a danger to American democracy. Mattis accused Trump of trying to divide Americans.
More recently, former Trump national security adviser John Bolton said Trump was not fit to be president and accused him in a new book of misdeeds, including seeking the help of Chinese President Xi Jinping to win the re-election.
Tim Reid’s report; Soyoung Kim and Will Dunham Edition