- The Washington Times - Monday, August 24, 2020

As the GOP kicked off its national convention Monday, Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden countered with his own Republicans.

Former Sen. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, is leading a cast of more than two dozen fellow former Republican members of Congress in officially ditching President Trump, their party’s nominee, to back Mr. Biden.

“It is apparent by now that the president’s behavior has not and will not change, whatever hopes we Republicans might have entertained about the office changing the man,” Mr. Flake said in remarks on Twitter.

He said whatever Mr. Trump’s accomplishments, the president’s behavior makes him unfit for the presidency.

And he said he has long eyed Mr. Biden as a viable alternative, telling those who have asked him over the last four years that he would back someone “if he or she were a Joe Biden-kinda-Democrat.”

“Well, the Democratic Party just nominated a Joe Biden-kinda-Democrat, whom I am confident will approach his constitutional role with the reverence and dignity it deserves. I know that he will reach across the aisle, because that’s what he’s done his entire career,” Mr. Flake said.

The theme of breakaway Republicans has been a constant for Mr. Biden, whose campaign is trying to paint Mr. Trump as a fringe figure that the nation must reject because of his leadership and personality.

Last week, at the Democratic National Convention, Mr. Biden featured former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and several other Republican former office holders who are backing the Democratic ticket.

The Biden team also has tried to corral former staffers for the GOP’s 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney, to announce their support for the Democratic ticket this year.

Republicans say the names Mr. Biden is touting are not surprises and won’t matter to GOP voters.

“John Kasich and Jeff Flake don’t care about what rank and file conservatives care about and they never have,” said Christopher R. Barron, president of Right Turn Strategies. “The only Republicans lining up to support Joe Biden are the ones who long for the GOP to return to an era where the establishment told the rank and file what to do — sadly for them, there is no putting us back in our cages. We — the base of the party — are firmly in control now.”

Almost all of the 27 Republican former lawmakers who backed Mr. Biden on Monday endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016 or at least made clear they weren’t voting for Mr. Trump.

Democrats’ plans for the Republican National Convention week seem to be aimed at carping from the edges. That contrasts with Mr. Trump, who during the Democrats’ convention traveled the country visiting his border wall and holding rallies in swing states.

The Democratic National Committee said it will project a slideshow portraying the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic near the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium on Washington, which will be the site of some convention speeches.

And the Biden campaign on Monday released a new convention-week ad that says the country for the first time is living through four concurrent crises: the coronavirus, the economic downturn spawned by the pandemic, racial justice demonstrations, and a changing global climate.

The ad then shows a mask-wearing Mr. Biden and newly tapped vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala D. Harris as an announcer says, “We need a team that’s up to the task.”

One of the names on Monday’s list is former Rep. Ray LaHood, who served as a Republican from Illinois but then went to work as Transportation Department secretary in the Obama administration.

His son, Rep. Darin LaHood, an Illinois Republican, is a delegate for Mr. Trump at the convention.

“Rep. Darin LaHood is proud to be co-chair of President Trump’s campaign for reelection and a delegate for the president at the Republican National Convention,” said the congressman’s spokesman, John Rauber.

“Darin and I are very close. We talk every day,” Ray LaHood told Peoria Public Radio. “We just have a different opinion about the future leadership for our country.”

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