Originally Published: Dayton Daily News By Thomas Gnau

A group of Republicans and military veterans spoke at Sinclair Community College Wednesday to urge Republican voters to put “country over party” and vote against President Donald Trump.

Chief among the speakers at a campus news conference was Miles Taylor, a former chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the Trump administration.

Taylor described himself as a lifelong Republican who supports former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic opponent. (With a smile, Taylor admits he did support a Democratic candidate in high school.)

“I say this as someone who helped co-author the president’s national security strategy,” Taylor said. “I’m intimately familiar with what this president wanted to do, and unfortunately, the president didn’t read his own national security strategy that we wrote for him. He didn’t do his homework.”

Trump’s campaign representative in Ohio didn’t respond to a request for comment.

After his prepared remarks, Taylor acknowledged that he has qualms about Biden.

“Of course. Look, at the end of the day, I’ll probably be among the first, when and if Biden is elected, to start opposing his policies. Maybe I’ll give him a break on day one. But on day two, there are a lot of things that I stand against that the Democratic party stands for.”

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But he believes the stakes are too high in this election to support Trump.

“I’ve flipped positions from where I was in 2016,” he said. “In 2016, I made the bargain that even though the guy of lesser character was in my party, that our policy positions were more important. After two-and-a-half years in the administration, I really firmly believe that his lack of character in the job has done more irreparable damage to our Democratic institutions than a Joe Biden or another Democrat might do on policy issues.”

The race is tight in Ohio. Here, 48% of likely voters supported Biden and 47% of voters supported Trump, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Sept. 24. Those numbers are well within the margin of error and might be seen as a tie.

The military vote is seen as crucial this year. In a poll reported by the Military Times newspaper in late August, based on 1,018 active-duty troops surveyed in late July and early August, 49.9% of respondents had an unfavorable view of Trump, compared to about 38% who had a favorable view. The margin of error in that poll was put at 2 percent.

Another poll conducted by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University with participants chosen from Military Times subscribers, showed Biden with 41% support among active-duty service members compared to 37% for Trump.

Wednesday’s press conference was arranged by an organization calling itself Operation Grant, a name that salutes Ulysses Grant, an Ohio native, union general in the Civil War and a two-term Republican president.

Several speakers criticized Trump for, as they described his tenure, abandoning America’s global leadership position and failing to stand up to Russian interference in American politics.

“The leader-of-the-free world position has been vacant for nearly four years,” said former Brig. Gen. Mark Arnold, who served in the Special Forces as a Green Beret and is a graduate of Ohio University and Cleveland State University.

Trump advocates have argued that the administration has been tougher on Russia than earlier presidents, imposing sanctions against Russian nationals and entities while arming Ukrainian combatants facing Russian militants.

U.S. troops fought an unknown number of “Russian mercenaries” in Syria in February 2018, according to the Military Times, an encounter thought to be the first time U.S. and Russian troops faced off since the Cold War. The Russians were reported to have been repulsed, though such clashes have been rare.