Former Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., joined the ranks of a handful of other Republicans who have disavowed President Trump and endorsed his Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden.
Dent, who represented the Lehigh Valley, a key swing constituency several dozen miles outside Philadelphia and New York City, said it is also “improbable” that Trump could win his home state again this fall.
The Allentown native told CNN Wednesday that he did not support Trump in 2016 — though he has also said he didn’t support Hillary Clinton — and that his announcement of support for Biden is not grounded in any political ideology.
“For me, it’s about right or wrong; stability versus instability; security versus insecurity; normal versus abnormal,” Dent told host Jake Tapper.
“That’s why I’m doing this — because I feel that we need to return some sense of normalcy to the function of government,” he said. “We simply don’t have that now. And that’s why I’m going to be voting for Joe Biden for president.”
Tapper, who is also a Pennsylvania native, noted that Trump won his home state for the first time since 1988.
He noted that with his announcement, Dent joined former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, 2016 presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, former New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman and ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell who have made similar calls.
He asked Dent what people in the state believe Trump’s chances are to again pull out a win.
“Looking at this analytically, right now, I think it’s improbable that he would win re-election in Pennsylvania simply because the suburban erosion for Republicans has been dramatic since the president was elected,” the congressman said, pointing to the fact the president won the more moderate Philadelphia suburbs, which have been since trending against the incumbent.
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Dent added that his home area, the Lehigh Valley, as well as the center of the state in the Harrisburg area appear to be trending against Republicans in what he has observed in mid-year and off-year elections.
Dent’s own seat, which was redistricted somewhat to exchange rural areas around Hershey for the city of Easton and surrounding suburbs, was won by freshman Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa. in 2018. Wild, who endorsed Biden, is running for reelection against Trump-endorsed businesswoman Lisa Scheller of Allentown.
In his interview, Dent predicted that the more rural and conservative northern counties nearby do not compose a large enough electorate to offset any Trump losses around Philadelphia.
“[Trump] pulled a perfect straight in 2016. He’d have to do it again. He only won by 44,000 votes. The suburban situation [for the GOP] is much worse. Joe Biden is not Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton lost because her vote collapsed outside of the Philadelphia region. And Biden is not Clinton,” he said.
Dent added that his disdain for Trump is rooted in several things, including the topic of Russia.
“I never in my wildest dreams thought an American president would be cozying up to somebody like Vladimir Putin and advancing his foreign policy objectives in Europe and the Middle East. On trade, I’d never thought we’d have a Republican president who’d be throwing around tariffs, taxes on American citizens…” he said, going on to criticize Trump’s stance on Confederate monuments.
Dent further contrasted Trump with top-tier Pennsylvania Republicans of the past, saying that the GOP was once more amenable to traditional Republicans like ex-Govs. Dick Thornburgh and Bill Scranton, as well as the late U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter.
“That was the party that I was always proud to be part of. And it’s a sad state of affairs,” said Dent. “I can’t imagine any of them would’ve appreciated any of this that’s happening right now. And I think we need to have this debate about the future of the party and we need to get serious adults engaged.”