Tom Ridge, the former Republican governor of Pennsylvania and the first U.S. secretary of Homeland Security, has announced he will be backing former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Joe Biden should enact critical government reforms if he wins MORE in the presidential race, saying in an op-ed that President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick ‘threatens’ Affordable Care Act MORE “lacks the empathy, integrity, intellect and maturity to lead.”
Ridge, who served in former President George W. Bush’s administration, said in an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday that his decision to vote for Biden in November will mark the first time he has voted for a Democratic presidential candidate.
Ridge, who has a history of criticizing Trump, accused the president of sowing “division along political, racial and religious lines” in the op-ed on Sunday morning and said he “routinely dismisses the opinions of experts who know far more about the subject at hand than he does – intelligence, military, and public health.”
“Our country has paid dearly in lives lost, social unrest, economic hardship and our standing in the world,” he wrote.
Ridge took aim at Trump for comments he made during a speech in Oshkosh, Wis., last month, in which he falsely claimed that the only way he would lose reelection in November is “if the election is rigged.” His comments came as he has alleged without evidence that an increase in mail-in voting efforts seen nationwide in recent months amid the pandemic would open the door to voter fraud later this year.
“Can you imagine the hubris? Can you imagine any other president in our lifetime — or ever — saying something so dangerous and un-American?” Ridge wrote in the op-ed. “We are in the midst of a health crisis, when we should be doing all we can to help citizens vote safely, yet he continues to cast doubt on the sanctity of the vote.”
“He’s done so multiple times here in Pennsylvania. It’s deplorable, yet utterly consistent with past reprehensible behavior,” he said.
Ridge noted that his decision to support Biden’s candidacy won’t dissuade him “from speaking out later when I disagree with him.”
“But we surely will do so with civility and respect, not with childish name-calling and twitter tirades. Joe Biden has the experience and empathy necessary to help us navigate not only the pandemic, but also other issues that have fractured our nation, including social injustice, income inequality and immigration reform,” he wrote.
Ridge’s op-ed follows criticism Trump leveled against him in July, after the president blasted him for criticizing his move to have federal officials sent to multiple cities amid unrest and widespread protests against racial injustice.
At the time, Ridge said the move was a “very disappointing response to a serious problem but it’s typical of someone who thinks reality TV is real.” Trump called the former governor a “RINO,” or “Republican in name only.”
In his op-ed on Sunday, Ridge said it’s “time to dismiss Donald Trump” and added that he believes the “responsible vote” in November is one for Biden.
“It’s a vote for decency. A vote for the rule of law. And a vote for honest and earnest leadership. It’s time to put country over party,” he wrote.