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A lifelong conservative explains why he's voting for President Biden this fall


Georgia's former Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan was among the top Republicans in that swing state when Donald Trump tried to overturn his election defeat in 2020. Duncan has since left office and moved on to a new effort he calls GOP 2.0, trying to reshape his party. He made headlines this week with an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution saying he will vote for President Biden. He finds Biden wrong on policy and right on the rule of law.

GEOFF DUNCAN: Well, I am a lifelong Republican. I believe in conservative principles, but I can't help but notice that Donald Trump is a trainwreck for us. And my game plan to try to eliminate him from our party is to vote for Joe Biden. And hopefully, he's able to beat Donald Trump and allow our Republican Party to move on. As an insurance policy, I'm going to continue to support Republicans across our congressional maps to try to hope to make sure we have a firewall against any far-left policies that might drift in during the four-year tenure.

INSKEEP: How do you respond to Republicans whose arguments might be summarized this way - you don't like Donald Trump. You don't like his style. But he is with us Republicans on policy?

DUNCAN: Donald Trump is a fake Republican. It doesn't get enough attention, but Donald Trump promised that he was going to build a wall. What he built was a bunch of rhetoric and a selfie station down at the border for Republican governors to show up and take pictures at. The guy is a fake Republican. We need to hold him accountable for it, and we have lost our way. He has caused confusion across the spectrum of Republicans to think that the louder you are, the angrier you are, the more conservative you are. And that could not be any further from the truth.

INSKEEP: You mentioned in your op-ed Bill Barr, the former attorney general under former President Trump, who has actually testified against him and his effort to overturn the election that he lost. And yet Barr has said on CNN and elsewhere he's voting for Trump again, can't vote for Biden. And the reason he gives is that he believes that progressives are a greater threat to freedoms in the country.


BILL BARR: I've said this all along - if faced with a choice between two people, neither of which I think should be president, I feel it's my duty to pick the person who I think would do the least damage to the country.

INSKEEP: How would you respond to that?

DUNCAN: I disagree. I mean, at this point, when you have somebody as reckless as Donald Trump, I don't think it makes sense to give somebody that power again. And so look - it's a tough calculation for me as a lifelong Republican, as a conservative, as I mentioned, that believes in these principles. But it's one that we cannot allow this guy to continue to infect our party the way he's doing it. He is a self-centered whackjob, for lack of a better phrase. And look. I get it. It's toeing the party line, but the reality is if we're going to make a change in our party and change direction, then we've got to be bold and call balls and strikes. And balls and strikes are Donald Trump is a disaster, and history will never be kind to his presidency.

INSKEEP: How do you respond to Republicans who, from the outside, would seem to be concerned about their careers? They feel they've got to go where the voters are. They've got to go where the party is. They've got to stick with the party so that someday they can rise in the party.

DUNCAN: I understand that, and I respect that. But if you got into office to just get reelected, then I don't think you're hitting the mark of what you promise folks. It cannot be about just getting reelected. It cannot just be about playing the game, or you get what we got, and that is a Congress that is stuck in mud. We need folks that are willing to step up and say, you know what? We have a national debt crisis. It's not a Republican problem. It's not a Democrat problem. It's an American problem. And let's go tackle it. We've got a border problem, right? Let's go figure out a way to tackle the border problem to create a safe, secure border. We've got to take this serious as we, the people. And for me, as a Republican, I'm just willing to stand up and say, you know what? As awkward as it may seem, I'm going to vote for Joe Biden because he's a decent man that I disagree with on policies over somebody who's a criminal defendant and has zero moral compass.

INSKEEP: Geoff Duncan, it's a pleasure talking with you. Thanks so much.

DUNCAN: Absolutely. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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