Some GOP Business Leaders Are Backing Clinton

header-hoover-institution-fellows1-1By Laura Meckler, WSJ

Democratic presidential candidate to get backing from executives, some of whom cite unease with Trump’s candidacy

23 Mar 2015, Washington, DC, USA --- Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes part in a Center for American Progress roundtable discussion on "Expanding Opportunities in America's Urban Areas" in Washington. --- Image by © Brooks Kraft/CorbisMore than 50 business executives, including several longtime Republicans, will endorse Hillary Clinton for president on Thursday as her campaign seeks to capitalize on discomfort with Republican Donald Trump.

They include Jim Cicconi, senior executive vice president at AT&T Services Inc., and Dan Akerson, who held top positions at General Motors Co. and Nextel Communications Inc. A Clinton campaign aide provided the list and said it would be distributed widely on Thursday.

The endorsements reflect continuing unease among some Republicans with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee despite his romp through the primary contest.

Mr. Cicconi, who worked in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said he has backed every GOP presidential candidate since 1976. “But this year I think it’s vital to put our country’s well being ahead of party,” he said in a statement provided by the campaign. “Hillary Clinton is experienced, qualified, and will make a fine president. The alternative, I fear, would set our nation on a very dark path.”

Mr. Akerson said he has consistently voted for Republicans for president in the past but couldn’t support Mr. Trump. “Serving as the leader of the free world requires effective leadership, sound judgment, a steady hand and most importantly, the temperament to deal with crises large and small. Donald Trump lacks each of these characteristics,” Mr. Akerson, who also served as a Navy surface warfare officer, said in a statement provided by the campaign.

On Wednesday, Brent Scowcroft, a national security adviser for two Republican presidents, endorsed Mrs. Clinton, saying her experience, judgment and understanding of the world prepare her for the job of commander in chief. His support comes a week after Richard Armitage, another longtime Republican foreign-policy hand, said he would back Mrs. Clinton if, as expected, Mr. Trump is the GOP nominee.

The Clinton campaign is seeking to formally organize support from Republicans beyond the list of business executives in the future, an aide said.

After a slow start, Mr. Trump is racing to shore up his standing with his party’s establishment, and has been making overtures to top GOP donors in recent weeks, many of whom supported other Republicans in the primaries, and have been slow to warm to him.

Mr. Trump attended a fundraiser at Le Cirque in New York City on Tuesday, attended by hedge-fund manager John Paulson, who had backed four of his rivals during the Republican primaries.

He also attended a breakfast Wednesday at Cipriani in Midtown, co-hosted by New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, a billionaire who had supported former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Last week, Mr. Trump raised money in Texas, meeting with several of his party’s wealthiest donors.

After a low fundraising haul in May, Mr. Trump has raised at least $19 million for his joint fund with the Republican National Committee in recent weeks and about $3 million for his campaign, people familiar with the matter said.

In addition, Republicans in Congress and from the establishment wing of the party were relieved by news this week that Mr. Trump had fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, in whom they had little faith.

Senior Clinton policy adviser Jake Sullivan briefed several of her supporters from the business community on a conference call Wednesday, during which he outlined the economic agenda she laid out in a pair of speeches this week, as well as her critique of Mr. Trump’s record and policies.

The list of business leaders backing her includes several who have supported Democrats in the past, including Eric Schmidt of Alphabet Inc., Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook Inc., and Warren Buffett of Berkshire-Hathaway, Inc.

Others endorsing the former secretary of state include Hollywood-turned-internet executive Barry Diller of IAC/InterActiveCorp; Hollywood executive Peter Chernin, of The Chernin Group; Wendell Weeks of Corning Inc.; Reed Hastings of Netflix Inc.; and Rob Marcus, formerly of Time Warner Cable Inc.

Mrs. Clinton still has work ahead of her in uniting Democrats after a vigorous primary challenge from Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who technically remains in the race and hasn’t endorsed her.

He plans a speech titled “Where we go from here” on Thursday in New York City, where he plans to continue pressing his agenda for the Democratic platform without endorsing Mrs. Clinton.

But the former secretary of state has party elites unified behind her. On Wednesday, she was greeted with cheers and applause as she met with House Democrats in the Capitol. Afterwards, House leaders said they were thrilled with her agenda and excited about her campaign.


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