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Another former RNC chair explains his support for Biden's candidacy

Of the last eight people who've chaired the RNC, the current Republican president appears to have only earned the support of half of them.
Image: Michael Steele
Chairman of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele takes questions from the audience at the John F. Kennedy School of Government on the campus of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass. on Feb. 3, 2010.Steven Senne / AP file

As recently as George W. Bush's presidency, Marc Racicot wasn't just the Republican governor of a red state, the Montanan was also the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Two weeks ago, Racicot announced that he's supporting Joe Biden's candidacy, citing the importance of "character" and "conscience."

The former RNC chair added soon after that he saw Donald Trump's presidency as "dangerous to the existence of the republic as we know it."

As recently as 2011, Michael Steele also led the Republican National Committee. This week, the Republican, now an MSNBC political analyst, explained to Christiane Amanpour why he's also supporting Biden's Democratic ticket.

"There's more to the presidency than a policy or Supreme Court nomination.... Look, I'll disagree with Joe Biden all day on public policy, but right now, the country is not concerned so much about that as it is, can you help us re-establish the relationship with foreign leaders and our partners around the globe? Can you help re-establish our faith in institutions and how they help govern the country? I think that matters a lot more than people realize."

We haven't heard much lately from Ken Mehlman, who led the RNC in 2006, or former Sen. Mel Martinez, who led the RNC in 2007, but they both balked at Trump four years ago, and they've given no indication they've changed their minds.

All of which suggests that of the last eight people who've chaired the Republican National Committee, the current Republican president appears to have only earned the support of half of them. That's not great for the incumbent.

As we recently discussed, after the seventh member of the Bush/Cheney cabinet threw his support behind the Biden/Harris ticket, there's simply no precedent in the American tradition for so many members of one major party publicly throwing their support to the nominee of the other party.

Every four years, voters will see a handful of partisan apostates throw their support behind the other party's nominee -- Georgia's Zell Miller, for example, delivered an unfortunate keynote address at the Republican convention in 2004 -- and these isolated voices are often exaggerated to make it appear as if White House hopefuls enjoy broad, bipartisan support.

But 2020 is qualitatively and quantitatively different. There's no modern precedent for the sheer volume of high-profile Republicans rallying behind the Democratic ticket -- a list that includes former governors, senators, U.S. House members, cabinet secretaries, RNC chairs, and even some Republicans who worked as members of Trump's own team.

To the extent that there's a group of discouraged GOP voters waiting for allies to tell them it's OK to choose Biden over Trump, the message they're now receiving couldn't be clearer.