Former N.J. Gov. Christie Whitman, ‘lifelong Republican,‘ backs Biden at Democratic National Convention

Posted Aug 17, 2020

Former Gov. Christie Todd Whitman, who once co-chaired a Republican convention and served in a Republican adminstration, spoke at the Democratic convention Monday night to endorse Joe Biden for president.

“What am I doing here?” said Whitman, whose parents were introduced by their parents at a Republican National Convention. “I’m a lifelong Republican.”

Whltman was the first of four Republicans to speak during the first night of the of the 2020 Democratic National Convention under the theme, “We the People Putting Country over Party.”

“This isn’t about a Republican or Democrat,” Whitman said. “It’s about a person, a person decent enough, stable enough, strong enough to get our economy back on track, a person who can work with everyone, Democrats and Republicans, to get things done. Donald Trump isn’t that person. Joe Biden is.”

Whitman’s father, Webster Todd, served as state party chairman for a decade and was an adviser to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Her mother, Eleanor Todd, was a national committeewoman and a former vice chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.

Even as a kid, she pitched her tent in the GOP, meeting Eisenhower at age 6 and selling lemonade at age 14 to raise money for Richard Nixon’s 1960 presidential campaign.

She served two terms as governor, the only woman to hold the post in New Jersey, and campaigned around the country for fellow Republicans.

That led to speculation about her becoming the GOP nominee for vice president in 1996.

Even Nixon raised that possibility. “In 1996, we should have a woman on the ticket. Has to be a governor -- executive experience. Christie Whitman would be a real sleeper,” he said.

The talk increased after Whitman was tapped to deliver the Republican response to President Bill Clinton’s 1995 State of the Union address.

When 1996 rolled around, Whitman and Texas Gov. George W. Bush co-chaired the Republican convention in San Diego. Four years later, Whitman worked to make Bush president. She served in his administration as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Despite her Republican bonafides, Whitman has opposed Trump since the beginning, supporting Hillary Clinton for president in 2016 and saying it was “mind boggling” that Senate Republicans voted to block witnesses in the Senate trial after he became only the third president ever to be impeached by the House.

State Republican Chairman Doug Steinhardt said Whitman should become a Democrat and offered to “donate the postage stamp” to mail in her change of registration form.

“Politics is about making choices,” Steinhardt said. “Governor Whitman made the choice to ‘appear’ at the Democratic National Convention, speaking on the same evening as Socialist Bernie Sanders. I don’t begrudge her that right, after all, this is America.

“But, no one in America should ever think that Christie Whitman represents the values of the New Jersey Republican Party.”

Whitman was followed by business executive Meg Whitman, who had a prominent role in Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 GOP presidential campaigns; former Rep. Susan Molinari of New York, the 1996 Republican convention keynote speaker; and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who ran against Donald Trump for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

The speeches were an effort to woo disaffected Republicans and independent voters who disapprove of Trump and might be amenable to supporting Biden, the former vice president who campaigned as a more moderate alternative to far more progressive candidates such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who also was speaking Monday night.

In a Monmouth University poll released earlier this month, 10% of Republicans and 59% of independents had an unfavorable view of the president.

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