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Colin Powell endorses Joe Biden for president, boosting national security profile

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden appears by video feed from Delaware to question voters about their situations at the start of the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention as participants from across the country are hosted over video links to the originally planned site of the convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S. August 17, 2020.

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Former Secretary of State Colin Powell delivered a heartfelt endorsement of Joe Biden during day two of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, handing the former vice president another boost to his national security bona fides.

“Joe Biden will be a president we will all be proud to salute,” the former George W. Bush administration official said during in a video message. “With Joe Biden in the White House, you will never doubt that he will stand with our friends and stand up to our adversaries—never the other way around.”

Powell, a Republican who served in a variety of national security roles throughout the 1980s and 1990s, is the latest prominent figure from Washington’s defense community to line up behind Biden as he seeks to take on President Donald Trump for the position of commander-in-chief in November. 

“The values I learned growing up in the South Bronx and serving in uniform were the same values that Joe Biden’s parents instilled in him in Scranton, Pennsylvania,” Powell said. “I support Joe Biden for the presidency of the United States because those values still define him, and we need to restore those values to the White House.”

Democrats have sought to highlight Biden’s capacity to handle the nation’s national security. Also on Tuesday, Cindy McCain, the wife of the late GOP Sen. John McCain, was set to appear to discuss Biden’s close friendship with her husband, who was taken prisoner and tortured while fighting in Vietnam.  McCain stopped short of endorsing Biden, however.

The roll-out comes as Biden has sought to portray a contrast with Trump while embracing Republican moderates.

While he was alive, John McCain sparred at times sharply with Trump, who while running for president in 2016 said of McCain’s imprisonment in Vietnam that “I like people who weren’t captured.”

Powell has criticized Trump in the past, and said in June that he would vote for Biden. He leaned into his criticism of the president during Tuesday’s address.

“Today, we are a country divided, and we have a president doing everything in his power to make it that way and keep us that way, Powell said. “What a difference it will make to have a president who unites us, who restores our strength and our soul.”

National security has not played a strong role in the 2020 election thus far, overtaken largely by the spreading Covid-19 pandemic and the effect of lock downs and other preventative measures on the economy. 

But Trump, who is behind in national polling averages, has nonetheless faced problems with former members of his administration attacking his national security decision making after their departures.

John Bolton, the president’s former national security advisor, published a critical book about the president earlier this year, and has indicated that he will not vote for Trump or Biden in November.

On Monday, Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff of the Department of Homeland Security penned a damning opinion article in The Washington Post that accused the president of making the country less secure. Taylor also endorsed Biden.

Trump has said that Bolton’s book is made up of lies and downplayed the the position of the DHS official as a disgruntled employee. 

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