Colin Powell, who was secretary of state under President George W. Bush, has become the latest Republican to speak up against President Donald Trump. “I certainly cannot in any way support President Trump this year,” Powell, a retired four-star general, said on CNN. Powell added that he is “very close to Joe Biden” and will be “voting for him” this year.
Powell’s opposition to Trump isn’t exactly new, as he didn’t vote for him in 2016. “The first thing that troubled me is the whole birthers movement,” Powell said. “Birthers movement had to do with the fact that the president of the United States, President Obama, was a black man. That was part of it.” Powell then said he was “deeply troubled” with the way Trump “was going around insulting everybody.” That “is dangerous for our democracy” and “dangerous for our country,” he added. “I think what we’re seeing now, the most massive protest movement I have ever seen in my life, I think this suggests that the country is getting wise to this, and we’re not going to put up with it anymore.”
Even though his opposition to Trump isn’t new, Powell spoke up at a time when other military leaders, including former Defense Secretary James Mattis, have criticized the president. Powell said he is “proud” that other military leaders are speaking up against Trump partly because it illustrates how the president has “drifted away” from the Constitution.
Beyond military leaders, Powell is also the latest in a growing list of prominent Republicans who are either privately or publicly questioning whether they will support the GOP candidate this year. Some aren’t so surprising. Former President George W. Bush, for example, won’t support Trump’s reelection, according to the New York Times. But it seems like some surprising names could come forward as the campaign progresses. “I’ve had five conversations with senators who tell me they are really struggling with supporting Trump,” Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said. The trend is so strong that Biden will be launching a “Republicans for Biden” coalition as part of his presidential campaign.
It didn’t take long for Trump to hit back at Powell by insulting him and criticizing his record. “Colin Powell, a real stiff who was very responsible for getting us into the disastrous Middle East Wars, just announced he will be voting for another stiff, Sleepy Joe Biden,” Trump tweeted.
Support our 2020 coverage
Slate is covering the election issues that matter to you. Support our work with a Slate Plus membership. You’ll also get a suite of great benefits.Join Slate Plus