One of former President George W Bush’s key foreign policy chiefs has endorsed Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in a dramatic sign that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is being abandoned by the party’s national security establishment.
Richard Armitage, who was deputy secretary of state from 2001 until 2005, said he would vote for Mrs Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, in November’s election because he did not believe Mr Trump is a Republican. He also suggested Mr Trump was uninformed.
“If Donald Trump is the nominee, I would vote for Hillary Clinton,” Mr Armitage told Politico. “He doesn't appear to be to be a Republican, he doesn't appear to want to learn about issues. So I’m going to vote for Mrs. Clinton.”
His comments represents the clearest demonstration yet of the discontent among senior Republicans over Mr Trump’s supposed unsuitability for office - particularly on foreign policy.
Mr Armitage said he did not know if other Republicans would follow him in backing Mrs Clinton but said many conservative national security experts were undecided about how to respond to Mr Trump’s candidacy.
“They’re in kind of a fog,” he said.
Mr Trump, the billionaire property magnate and television reality host, has provoked consternation with several wayward statements on foreign affairs, including describing Nato as “obsolete” and suggesting that Japan and South Korea could be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons.
He has also attacked Mr Bush over the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which occurred while Mr Armitage was serving in the then president’s administration. Mr Trump has said his foreign policy will be based on the principle of “America first”, a phrase originally coined in the 1930s by Republican isolationists who favoured compromising with Nazi Germany.
Several other leading Republicans foreign policy specialists have withheld support from Mr Trump, but Mr Armitage - who also assistant defence secretary under Ronald Reagan - is the highest profile figure among a smaller number who say they will vote for Mrs Clinton.
Other Republicans who have declared support for her include Mark Salter, former chief-of-staff to senator John McCain, and Peter Mansour, a retired army colonel who is a former aide to General David Petraeus, the ex-CIA director who also commanded allied forces in Iraq.
Several retired generals, some with Republican links, have privately voiced serious misgivings over Mr Trump’s candidacy and are said to be debating whether to speak out. Politico quoted one former general, who served as a commander under President Barack Obama, as predicting that a group of senior military figures “probably will try to energise something”.
John Kasich, the Ohio governor and one of Mr Trump's defeated opponents in the Republican presidential primary race, said he would not vote for the presumptive nominee without a dramatic change in policy - although he stopped short of backing Mrs Clinton
“I’m waiting to see if at this point there’s going to be a Damascus Road experience, a dramatic change,” Mr Kasich told Yahoo News. “And I haven’t seen it. You never know when it can happen. But without that, I won’t be involved.”