LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - More than 50 Republican former national security officials will endorse Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Thursday, joining one of several Republican organizations opposing the re-election of President Donald Trump.
The group, called Former Republican National Security Officials for Biden, launched in August with 70 members. The new endorsements will bring it to nearly 130 individuals who have publicly broken with the Republican president, including seven who served under Trump, people familiar with the effort said.
Others worked as senior defense and security officials in the administrations of Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
Retired Army General Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, also endorsed Biden on Thursday during an interview with MSNBC.
McChrystal, who resigned in 2010 after a Rolling Stone article quoted him making unflattering remarks about Biden and other civilian officials, said he always respected Biden and the incident was “more smoke than fire.”
“We have to believe in our values. You have to believe that your commander in chief, at the end of the day, is someone that you can trust, and I can trust Joe Biden,” he said.
The 56 new people in the group endorsing Biden include Greg Brower, a former FBI assistant director; Larry Pfeiffer, a former CIA chief of staff; and Alden Munson, former deputy director of National Intelligence.
The group will start running full-page newspaper ads on Thursday in seven competitive states that will help decide the Nov. 3 election: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina and Texas, a person involved in the effort said.
The ad accuses Trump of being unfit to serve as president and of having failed America with his response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 200,000 people in the United States and triggered a severe economic downturn.
The group also will run a TV ad during “Fox & Friends,” which Trump is known to watch. The ad features Michael Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, accusing Trump of making the United States less safe because of his disregard for facts, his criticism of America’s intelligence officials and his demeaning of U.S. allies.
Elizabeth Neumann, Trump’s former assistant secretary for threat prevention in the Department of Homeland Security, who joined the national security group backing Biden in August, said Trump’s failure to unequivocally denounce white supremacists during Tuesday’s presidential debate reinforced members’ belief that he must be defeated in November.
“He has an inability to clearly condemn white supremacists,” Neumann said. “He either likes the ambiguity or he’s intentionally endorsing these people. He’s unfit, and I think he’s extremely dangerous.”
The Trump campaign has described Republican-led groups campaigning for Biden as disaffected former officials “trying to take down the duly elected president of the United States.” Trump on Twitter last year referred to “Never Trump Republicans” as “human scum.”
The organizations of Republicans backing Biden include Republican Voters Against Trump and 43 Alumni for Biden, which consists of hundreds of officials who worked for George W. Bush.
Collectively, the groups object to Trump’s alienation of U.S. allies and his leadership at home, including his handling of the coronavirus and his reaction to nationwide protests over racial injustice and police brutality against Black Americans.
Reporting by Tim Reid; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Cynthia Osterman and Jonathan Oatis
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