The many GOP speakers endorsing Biden at the 2020 DNC show how deeply Trump has divided the Republican Party

The many GOP speakers endorsing Biden at the 2020 DNC show how deeply Trump has divided the Republican Party
President Donald Trump pauses while speaking during an event about regulatory reform on the South Lawn of the White House on July 16, 2020 in Washington, DC.Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • At the 2020 Democratic National Convention, several well-known Republican figures have spoken and endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden.
  • In the hyperpartisan context of a US presidential race, it's highly unusual for prominent Republicans to endorse Democratic candidates and speak at the DNC.
  • What's happening is emblematic of how President Donald Trump has upended the modern GOP, as he endorses conspiracy theorists running for Congress and invites gun-toting couples to speak at the Republican National Convention.

The 2020 Democratic National Convention has two nights left, and it's already featured several prominent Republicans as speakers — which is emblematic of how President Donald Trump has upended the GOP and alienated himself from the establishment wing of the party.

John Kasich, the former Ohio governor and GOP presidential candidate, gave a full-throated endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden in remarks on Monday night, excoriating Trump in the process.

"I'm a lifelong Republican, but that attachment holds second place to my responsibility to my country," Kasich said. "That's why I've chosen to appear at this convention. In normal times, something like this would probably never happen. But these are not normal times."

Kasich was right: In normal times, it would be unthinkable to see well-known Republican figures lend their voices to the DNC to endorse the Democratic presidential nominee.

Under Trump, however, times are decidedly abnormal, and the GOP is a party divided.


Normally, a Republican presidential nominee would see top Republican figures, including former presidents, lining up to speak on their behalf of the Republican National Convention.

That's not the case for Trump, who has been abandoned by recent standard-bearers of the Republican Party.

A Bush family member spoke at every GOP convention from 1980 to 2012. But the Bushes, including the two former Republican presidents, sat out the 2016 RNC when Trump received the party's nomination.

Former President George W. Bush won't be speaking at the RNC next week, nor will his brother Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida and a 2016 GOP presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, Colin Powell, a lifelong Republican who served as Bush's secretary of state, forcefully endorsed Biden and touted the former vice president's national security credentials on Tuesday night at the DNC.


"The values I learned growing up in the South Bronx and serving in uniform were the same values that Joe Biden's parents instilled in him in Scranton, Pennsylvania. I support Joe Biden for the presidency of the United States because those values still define him, and we need to restore those values to the White House," Powell said in a video played during the second night of the convention.

In 2016, all but one former GOP presidential nominee (Bob Dole) skipped out on the RNC.

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the 2012 GOP nominee, did not attend in 2016 and will not be attending this year either. Romney was the lone Republican to vote to convict Trump during the Senate's impeachment trial in early 2020, in another moment highlighting the profound ways Trump has been ostracized by household names in the GOP.

Each living former Democratic president — Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama — have endorsed Biden and are speaking at the 2020 Democratic convention. And every major 2020 Democratic opponent of Biden's has lined up behind him.

A former top member of the Trump administration, Miles Taylor, also endorsed Biden this week, saying that working in the administration was "terrifying."


As Biden garners support from both Democrats and Republicans, Trump is lining up behind far-right conspiracy theorists in Republican primaries and inviting obscure figures to speak at the RNC to fill the gaps created by prominent GOP figures who won't lend their names or voices to the commander-in-chief.

For example, Patricia and Mark McCloskey, the Missouri couple who became internet famous for pointing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters in St. Louis earlier this summer, have been invited to speak at the RNC.

The many GOP speakers endorsing Biden at the 2020 DNC show how deeply Trump has divided the Republican Party
Armed homeowners Mark and Patricia McCloskey, standing in front their house along Portland Place, confront protesters marching to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson's house in the Central West End of St. Louis.Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP

Cindy McCain, a longtime Republican and the wife of the late GOP Sen. John McCain, emphasized Biden's bipartisan credentials as she endorsed him a video at the DNC on Tuesday.

While Biden has generated a reputation as someone skilled at building relationships across the aisle, his ability to gain GOP support this election cycle can largely be attributed to the person he's running against.

Still, the bipartisan backing that Biden is enjoying is remarkable in the context of the generally hyperpartisan nature of US presidential races. What's happening is utterly unorthodox and typifies how Trump has factionalized the GOP with his incendiary behavior and divisive approach to the presidency.