Former President George W. Bush and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) will not support President Trump’s reelection, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Several Republican leaders are struggling with whether to endorse the sitting president in his reelection campaign, with some are considering endorsing or voting for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Recent events involving Trump’s response to the protests against police treatment of minority populations and the coronavirus pandemic have inspired an urgency among Republicans to decide whether to publicly discuss their voting plans for November, according to the Times.
People familiar with George W. Bush’s thinking told the newspaper he will not back the president’s reelection and that his brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, is not sure how he will vote. Freddy Ford, a spokesman for the former president, told the Times that George W. Bush would not get involved in the elections and only speak on policy issues, like he did last week when he said the U.S. must “examine our tragic failures” on race.
Romney will not support Trump and is considering writing in his wife’s name again or casting a different ballot, according to the Times.
The 2012 Republican nominee told The Atlantic in February he would not back the president after he voted to convict him of abuse of power during the Senate impeachment trial.
Retired Gen. Colin Powell, who served as the secretary of State under Bush, announced on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that he will be voting for Biden in November because Trump “lies about things.”
Powell’s declaration of support for Biden sparked sharp rebuke from Trump himself, who tweeted that the retired general was “a real stiff who was very responsible for getting us into the disastrous Middle East Wars.”
Another well-known GOP member, Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), is likely to back Biden in the race, but it’s unclear how public she will make her decision, the Times reported.
The Times noted that none of these Republicans had voted for the president in 2016 but their criticisms stand out because they are now denouncing a sitting president. Representatives for former Speakers Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and John Boehner (R-Ohio) declined to say how they would vote.
Biden plans to release his “Republicans for Biden” coalition later in the campaign after working to unify the Democratic Party behind him, Democrats familiar with the campaign’s planning told the Times.
The reported debate among Republicans comes after former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued a blistering statement condemning Trump’s handling of the protests over George Floyd’s death.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also said last week that she was “struggling” on whether to vote for the president’s reelection.