Richard V. Spencer, President Trump’s ousted former Navy secretary, endorsed on Friday the opposing White House campaign of Democratic candidate Michael R. Bloomberg.
Mr. Spencer, who was asked to resign in November amid a dispute involving retired Navy SEAL and convicted war criminal Edward R. Gallagher, stumped for Mr. Bloomberg during a campaign event held in Virginia shortly after his support was announced on the candidate’s official website.
Speaking near a naval base in Norfolk, Mr. Spencer touted the billionaire media mogul and former New York City mayor for having characteristics crucial to running the country.
“We need a leader with integrity and discipline who is a pragmatic problem solver,” said Mr. Spencer.
“If we are to sustain this experiment called democracy, America needs the best leader available. A leader who understands the complexities of today’s world both foreign and domestic. A leader who can articulate, implement his strategy while having a steady hand on the wheel,” Mr. Spencer added.
Mr. Spencer, 66, led the Navy for more than two years under Mr. Trump prior to being pushed out amid a disagreement over Gallagher, who was convicted of posing with a human corpse but allowed with the president’s support to retire as a SEAL.
He is the first former high-ranking member of the Trump administration to back Mr. Bloomberg, who launched his campaign in November and has steadily gained in the polls since.
“I’m a lifelong Republican,” Mr. Spencer said at Friday’s event. “But I’m here today because I’m tremendously concerned. Democracies around the world are under threat, and the foundation of international institutions are being weakened on a regular basis.”
“We as a nation must come together in order to be more productive problem solvers,” he said later. “And we must come together to overcome the divisiveness that is choking our government today.”
Mr. Bloomberg, 77, served three terms as mayor of New York City, including two as a Republican and one as an independent.
He thanked Mr. Spencer for his support during Friday’s event, calling him “the definition of a great American.”