The group of politicians are backing the former vice president over Donald Trump in "a strong rebuke to the current administration"

By Nicholas Rice
August 26, 2020 08:11 PM
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Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (left) and former Vice President Joe Biden
Facebook; Getty Images

An array of former Republican members of Congress have endorsed Joe Biden for president.

On Monday, ahead of the first night of the Republican National Convention, more than two dozen former member of Congress, including retired Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, announced their support for the former vice president and Democratic presidential nominee, 77, in the November election against President Donald Trump.

The Biden campaign called it "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 campaign said Monday. "These former Members of Congress are supporting Joe Biden because they know what’s at stake in this election and that Trump’s failures as President have superseded partisanship."

Alongside Flake, 57, former New Hampshire Sen. Gordon Humphrey and former Virginia Sen. John Warner join former Texas Rep. Steve Bartlett, former Pennsylvania Rep. Bill Clinger, former New York Rep. Susan Molinari and others in backing Biden.

Flake has been a longtime critic of Trump, despite their shared political party, and last fall — after leaving office — he wrote an op-ed urging lawmakers to go against the president and save their "souls" in the congressional battle over Trump's impeachment.

"At this point, the president’s conduct in office should not surprise us," he wrote. "But truly devastating has been our tolerance of that conduct. Our embrace of it. From the ordeal of this presidency, perhaps the most horrible — and lasting — effect on our democracy will be that at some point we simply stopped being shocked. And in that, we have failed not just as stewards of the institutions to which we have been entrusted but also as citizens. We have failed one another, and we have failed ourselves."

Flake echoed that argument in a speech he gave Monday explaining his Biden endorsement.

He said then: "I was a Republican long before the president ever called himself one, and I will be a Republican long after identifying as such is no longer useful to him. Principle does not go in and out of fashion, does not chase ratings, or play to the base, or care too much about polls. And principle is the provenance of no one party."

Trump has responded with characteristic disdain to the small but growing minority of Republicans who have backed Biden, including Flake, and he has touted that he remains overwhelmingly supported by the base.

"In Jeff Flake’s case it’s me, pure and simple. I retired him. I’m very proud of it, I did the country a great service," Trump said during a press conference at the White House in 2018. "He is retired. I’d like to call it another word, but we’re going to treat him with great respect."

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The Biden campaign said Monday that it had created a "Republicans for Biden" group built on the support of those two dozen-plus GOPers.

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Described as "a national effort to engage Republicans who are supporting Biden this fall," the group will also "encourage Republicans to organize their communities for Biden using the Vote Joe app and other relational organizing tools."