Former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Sunday became the latest member of the Republican Party’s old guard to announce that he will not be voting for President Trump in November’s general election.
Powell’s admission comes amid rumors and speculation that a number of establishment Republican heavyweights have sworn off voting for Trump in favor of Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden. The New York Times reported former President George W. Bush – under whom Powell served as secretary of state – and frequent Trump critic, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, will not be voting for the current Oval Office occupant come November.
“I certainly cannot, in any way, support President Trump this year,” Powell said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We have a Constitution and we have to follow that Constitution and the president has drifted away from it.”
Powell instead made clear that when he heads to the ballot box this fall he will be casting his vote for Biden.
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“I’m very close to Joe Biden in a social matter and in a political matter,” Powell said. “I’ve worked with him for 35, 40 years. And he is now the candidate and I will be voting for him.”
Powell added, however, that despite his backing of Biden’s White House run, he will not be hitting the campaign trail in support of the Democratic nominee.
“Well, I haven’t been asked [to campaign for Biden] and I don’t think I will be,” he said. “Campaigning is not my strong suit. I’ll be speaking for him, but I don’t plan to make campaign trips.”
While this is not the first time that Powell has backed a Democrat over Trump – in 2016 he said he voted for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – his announcement does come at a time when many establishment Republicans are questioning their support of Trump following his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the widespread protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Along with Romney and former President Bush, the New York Times is reporting that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Cindy McCain, the wife of late Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, are also considering voting against Trump come November.
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The withering criticism of Trump by his own former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the admission by Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska that she is “struggling” with whether to vote for the sitting president of her own party have only increased the speculation that Trump could see a large mutiny on establishment Republicans in the general election.
Still the president enjoys the support of Republican leaders in Congress – like Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina – as well as the backing of former rivals like Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Trump’s campaign, in a statement, did not seem concerned about the reports of establishment defections even as the president’s poll numbers continue to slip against Biden.
“President Trump has the support of a record number of Republicans across the country,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said. “He leads a united party and will win in November.”