Mitt Romney 2012 campaign veterans backing Joe Biden over Donald Trump

Veterans of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign are eyeing an alliance with Joseph R. Biden, looking to make a splash in announcing they have turned their backs on the GOP this year and will support the presumptive Democratic nominee instead.

Micah Spangler, who was a staffer in southern Florida for the Republican Party during the race, told fellow campaign vets in emails Friday and over the weekend that he is working with the Biden team “to cultivate a network of Romney alums that want to help elect Joe in November.”

In a separate email to The Washington Times, he said he has received an outpouring of support over the first few days but wouldn’t say what motivated him to flip.

“Dozens and dozens of Romney 2012 staffers have ‘signed up’— and there’s plenty more outreach to do,” he said in the email.

But some Romney campaign folks were indignant at the idea that anyone would leap from Mr. Romney to Mr. Biden, who as vice president was on the ticket in 2012 running against Mr. Romney.

“I wish my former Romney teammates no personal ill-will. But I question the patriotism and wisdom of supporting Joe Biden, who would be a cultural and economic disaster for the country,” said Brett Doster, who was a senior adviser for Mr. Romney’s Florida effort in 2012. “The Biden leftists can’t wait to flush free markets, the Constitution and unborn babies all down the same socialist sewage pipe.”

Andrew M. Bonderud, a lawyer who worked on the Romney campaign in Florida, said he didn’t remember Mr. Spangler but figured he was “probably a bit of an opportunist,” looking to capitalize on the possibility of a Biden victory.

“I think it’s madness,” he said. “I suspect it’s going to have a small audience. Most of the people with whom I worked on the Romney campaign are supporting Trump.”

What the effort does, though, is put Mr. Romney in a tricky spot.

He was the GOP’s White House nominee in 2012, losing his bid to unseat President Obama in an election that Republicans had thought was winnable.

He would go on to win a Senate seat from Utah in 2018, and in February he became the first senator in history to vote to convict and remove a president of his own party, siding with Democrats in their impeachment effort.

He has been public about not backing President Trump in 2016, saying he instead wrote in his wife, Ann, on his ballot.

His office didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment, including whether he disavowed the push to use his name to back Mr. Biden.

It’s unlikely the Romney-to-Biden effort will sway self-identified Republicans. Mr. Trump enjoys strong support within the GOP, with Gallup’s latest polling showing he has 85% approval in the party — though that’s down from 92% in early May.

Mr. Romney had 96% support of Republicans in Gallup’s final survey before the 2012 election.

A more likely target for the Romney flippers are independents or any voters who identified as Republican a decade ago but no longer do.

It’s rare — but not unheard of — for a sitting member of Congress to support the opposing party’s nominee.

Sen. Zell Miller did so in 2004, with the Georgia Democrat even speaking at the GOP convention to endorse Republican George W. Bush.

Some of Mr. Romney’s top political advisers, reached by The Times, said they hadn’t been contacted by the pro-Biden effort.

Mr. Trump has run hot and cold on Mr. Romney, mocking him for his 2012 loss, then backing him for his 2018 Senate run, then labeling him a “loser” as Mr. Romney’s criticism grew more intense this year.

The Biden campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Spangler is now director of advocacy at the United Nations Association.

During the 2012 campaign, he was paid by the Republican Party of Florida as part of the joint victory effort, beginning in July. He earned $2,500 a month, according to Federal Election Commission spending records.

The Washington Times asked him what spurred his turn away from the GOP and whether it was related to Mr. Trump, but he did not respond to those questions, instead celebrating the reaction he said he has received.

“At first, I honestly wasn’t sure what sort of responses (if any) I’d receive but over the last 72 hours, there’s been an outpouring of support across all sectors of the campaign,” he wrote.

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