Hundreds of officials who worked for former Republican United States President George W Bush endorsed Democratic White House hopeful Joe Biden on Wednesday, the latest Republican-led group coming out to oppose the re-election of Donald Trump.
The officials, including Cabinet secretaries and other senior people in the Bush administration, have formed a political action committee called “43 Alumni for Biden” to support the former vice president in his November 3 race. Bush was the country’s 43rd president.
The Super PAC launched with a website and Facebook page and plans to release “testimonial videos” praising Biden from high-profile Republicans. It will also will hold get out to vote efforts in the most competitive states.
The group is the latest of several Republican organisations opposing Trump’s re-election, yet another sign that the president has alienated some in his own party, most recently with his response to the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide protests over racial injustice and police brutality against Black Americans following the police killing of George Floyd in late May.
“We know what is normal and what is abnormal, and what we are seeing is highly abnormal. The president is a danger,” Jennifer Millikin, one of the 43 Alumni organisers, who worked on Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign and later in the general services administration, told the Reuters news agency ahead of the launch.
Millikin said the group was not yet ready to name all its members or its donors, but among those listed on the website as making up the organising committee are Genevieve Woodard Hartley, David Almacy, Michael Turk, Karen Kirksey, and Michael Brown. It has to provide a list of initial donors to the Federal Election Commission by October.
Bush’s office has been informed about the group, but the former president is not involved and has not indicated if he approves of its aims, she said.
Freddy Ford, a spokesman for Bush, said Bush had retired “and won’t be wading into this election”.
Bush, who is still admired by many moderate Republicans, won praise for saying the May 25 death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in police custody, reflected a “shocking failure”, and urged that protesters be heard.
Earlier, he released a video calling for Americans to unite in the face of the pandemic.
Despite policy differences with Biden, “hundreds” of former Bush officials believe the Democrat has the integrity to meet America’s challenges, the 43 Alumni members said.
“This November, we are choosing country over party,” Kristopher Purcell told Reuters. “We believe that a Biden administration will adhere to the rule of law … and restore dignity and integrity to the White House.”
“We really have had overwhelming support for our efforts,” Kirksey added.
As a Super PAC, the group’s members are forbidden by law from working with or communicating with the Biden campaign, but can raise unlimited amounts of money, run ads or hold events to support the candidate.
The Biden campaign declined to comment.
Erin Perrine, a Trump campaign spokeswoman, said of 43 Alumni for Biden: “This is the swamp – yet again – trying to take down the duly elected president of the United States.”
The most recent plan comes as dozens of Republican former national security officials are set to back Biden, claiming that Trump is a threat to US security, people involved in the effort have told Reuters.
Trump has also drawn sharp criticism from retired military leaders over his apparent attempts to involve the armed forces in efforts to quell anti-racism protests.
Other Republican groups opposing his re-election include the Lincoln Project, co-founded by George Conway, husband of Trump counsellor Kellyanne Conway.
Trump has expressed contempt for Republican and conservative figures who oppose him, saying on Twitter that “Never Trumper” Republicans are “human scum”.