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.