The longtime Middletown, New York Republican cannot bring himself to vote for Donald Trump.
“I would love to vote Republican,” he said. “This Republican Party is not my Republican Party. ”
Simpson is one of hundreds of Americans supporting a political action committee called Republican Voters Against Trump, which tries to convince Republicans that it’s okay to vote against the party that many have supported all their lives.
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RVAT has collected videos of Republicans across the United States saying they will not support Trump in the election. The group uses these videos on YouTube and other social media platforms and in television commercials.
Simpson’s submission was shot with his home phone.
“I’m going to vote for Joe Biden this year,” he says in the video. “As a longtime Republican, I cannot in good conscience support this kind of president.
Connor Metz has been working on videos for RVAT since this spring, when he left a job in Washington for a Republican senator.
Metz says he resigned after reading the letter from former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to Atlantic magazine criticizing Trump.
“Donald Trump is the first president in my life who doesn’t try to unite the American people – doesn’t even pretend to try,” Mattis wrote. “Instead, he’s trying to divide us.
Metz says this letter was the last straw.
“I quit that day,” Metz says. “I said, ‘I can’t really do this.'”
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The goal of RVAT, Metz says, is not to turn staunch Trump supporters into the Biden camp. They target disgruntled or hesitant Trump supporters, trying to show them they’re not alone – There are other people like them who feel the same way and it’s okay to vote Democrat in this election.
“We like to say that we are putting in place an authorization structure for Republicans – to show them that it is okay to vote against the president,” Metz says.
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In one of the videos on the RVAT YouTube page, a man describing himself as Douglas from Florida says he’s been a registered Republican his “life” but refuses to support his party’s candidate.
“I never voted for a Democrat,” he says. “I never saw the need. Joe Biden is not my first choice for president. But Joe Biden is not Donald Trump. ”
Many of the videos are blunt in their criticism of the president.
“He’s not just stupid and mean. He is cruel and uneducated. – Greg from Pennsylvania.
“I can’t look at my kids and say I voted for this man.” – Sara from Tennessee.
“Honestly, I try not to think about (Trump). Because I am panicking. I am so angry. So hurt. I feel so betrayed. – John from Washington State.
There are two distinct RVAT political action committees, both made up of a dozen employees. One focuses on swing states, while the other specifically targets Florida.
Metz says the goal isn’t to destroy the Republican Party, it’s more of a house cleaning. He hopes to remove Trump and rebuild.
RVAT does not attempt to move the needle much. It targets states where even small changes can make a difference. In 2016, Trump won Wisconsin by less than 1%. Metz said this time around, RVAT is the biggest advertiser in this state behind the candidates themselves.
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“Republicans like us, voting for Joe Biden, could turn a narrow Trump victory into a Biden landslide.”
The two RVAT groups have a budget of around $ 15 million. It’s money raised from donations and a parent super PAC, Defending Democracy Together.
Most of that money is used to buy targeted TV ads and Facebook ads, but that might not be the only cost.
For many, turning your back on their party means turning your back on family and friends.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve lost friends,” Simpson says. “But I would say I lost the respect of friends. “
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