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Why Phil Scott, Vermont’s GOP governor, says he voted for Joe Biden

Republican said he had to “put country over party” to make the decision

Josh Marcus
Wednesday 04 November 2020 00:44 GMT
Kamala Harris tells voters not to fear violence but to 'have faith in the American people'

Vermont’s Governor Phil Scott told reporters on Tuesday he “put country over party” and voted for Joe Biden, making him the only incumbent Republican governor in America to publicly back the Democrat, Vermont news site Seven Days  reports

Other prominent GOP incumbents including Utah Senator Mitt Romney, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker have also publicly repudiated the president, but none have said they voted for Mr Biden.

“President Trump has had four years to unite this country and has failed to do so,” Gov Scott said. “We need someone who can pull us together. Our country needs to heal, and I’m very concerned about what another four years will do to our country.”

He also added he hopes that if Mr Biden wins, he remembers it was because of moderates like him.

Gov Scott is not the first prominent Republican to go against the president this cycle.

During the Democratic nominating convention, high-profile GOPers including former US Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Ohio governor John Kasich, and Cindy McCain, widow of Senator John McCain, all backed former Vice President Biden, along with a host of former national security officials including many Republicans.

There has also been the daily thorn in the president’s side that is the Lincoln Project, a group of conservatives which regularly produces anti-Trump ads that go viral on social media.

Whether endorsements from highly visible Republicans will put a dent on the election is another story. In 2016, GOP stalwarts like Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham regularly pilloried the president, to little lasting electoral effect. 

The most discernible impact of Republicans speaking out against the president is usually an intense backlash from Mr Trump online, or from the Republican base on election day.

Former Sen Jeff Flake of Arizona, one of the few regular GOP critics of the president in the Senate, announced he wouldn’t seek re-election for 2018, as he headed towards defeat in a contested primary.  

“There may not be a place for a Republican like me in the current Republican climate or the current Republican Party,” Sen Flake told the Arizona Republic at the time. “The path that I would have to travel to get the Republican nomination is a path I’m not willing to take, and that I can’t in good conscience take.”

The president laid into Senator Romney earlier this year, after he became the first senator in US history to vote to remove a fellow party member from office during the impeachment trial. 

It seems former Vice President Biden is heeding the Vermont governor’s advice, as he’s reportedly considering moderate Republicans like Mr Kasich and Meg Whitman, the CEO of streaming service Quibi and a former GOP presidential hopeful, for cabinet positions. What Republican voters in Vermont remember will also be put to the test, as Gov Scott himself is up for re-election.

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