Republican veterans host roundtable for Biden-Harris

Screenshot of Republican panelists discussing their decision to vote for Joe Biden in the upcoming presidential election. 

Six Arizona members of the Republican Party including Cindy McCain, wife of the late Sen. John McCain, hosted a virtual roundtable via Zoom on Oct. 20 discussing putting country over party to support former Vice President Joe Biden in the upcoming presidential election. 

Rick Romley, a Marine Corps veteran and former Maricopa County Attorney in 1989 was the moderator for the roundtable discussion and began by introducing panelists and their contribution to the Republican Party. After introductions, participants each expressed their reasons for voting Biden for U.S. president as well as concerns in the current administration including international relations, empathy and service, which influenced their voting decision.  

Rick Romley

As a military veteran, Romley said it was an article by The Atlantic regarding President Trump's inability to show empathy and respect for those that are serving or have served this nation including calling those individuals "losers and suckers" that convinced him to vote for Biden. 

"I couldn't understand that and I would never accept that," Romley said. "I was seriously wounded. I was in military hospitals for years. I saw literally hundreds of veterans come to those hospitals and I saw their suffering. And I knew that there's a lifetime of pain that they would have had to deal with their disability and they're not suckers. They serve this country. They need to be honored and revered. That's when I decided I needed to not just vote, but I decided to speak out against President Trump. I cannot support the commander-in-chief who does not have our back when times get to be real tough."

Romley said as a lifetime Republican, his decision to vote for Biden was also because of the current administration's lack of leadership. He said he is looking for the kind of leadership that commands respect, not just to have the power to give a command.

Cindy McCain 

Cindy McCain is the wife of late U.S. Sen. John McCain and is a parent to two sons serving in the U.S. military. McCain is also the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the McCain Institute for International leadership at ASU. The organization focuses on advancing character-driven leadership based on security, economic opportunity, freedom and human dignity. McCain also chairs the institute's human trafficking Advisory Council and her family's business, Hensley Beverage Company.

As a registered Republican, McCain said she has no intention of changing her party but believes that voters need to do what is right for this country. After months of President Trump denigrating her husband, children and father, McCain said the president's actions was the tipping point for her. 

"I think it's time we elect a president that has leadership quality and knows what's right and wrong," McCain said. "[Someone] who has empathy and concern, but most importantly acts for the country and not himself or the party. That's what I'm looking for." 

Biden is someone people should vote for, McCain said, as he has the ability to bring esteem and worth back to the international stage on behalf of this country.

Adm. Steve Abbot

Adm. Steve Abbot is a retired U.S. Navy. Until September 2019, Abbot served as the president and chief executive officer to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, a private nonprofit dedicated to assisting sailors raising their families. Abbot served as a deputy Homeland Security adviser from October 2001 through May of 2003.

A major factor for Abbot's support to Biden was the current administration's approach to COVID-19. Abbot said the administration had committed a series of missteps and that the leadership was a violation of a cardinal principle of the U.S. military of leading by example.

"I'm going to support Joe Biden because I know from my own experience that he is just the opposite kind of a person," Abbot said. "He brings people together. He doesn't divide them, which is what has happened in this country. We've got divided in a serious way and I know that Joe Biden is the person that's going to bring us back together. So I'm delighted that I'm going to be able to vote for Joe Biden."

Suzie Schwartz

Suzie Schwartz is active in numerous military, philanthropic and assistance programs for military spouses and families. Schwartz has served as an Air Force security board member and has also actively participated in the White House Joining Forces initiative with a purpose to mobilize all sectors of American society to support the military community.

Schwartz shared a story of sitting at graduation at the Air Force Academy where Biden was the guest speaker. After shaking hands for three hours with every single cadet as they got their diploma, Biden walked off the stage across the football field, got in his car and started to go under the tunnel to exit the stadium. While members waited for Biden to leave, they noticed the brake lights came on and Biden got out of his car and shook every cadet's hand in the tunnel before leaving. Schwartz said Biden's ability to connect to the people and provide service to others is her reason for her voting decision. 

"Joe Biden brings 40 years of service to this country," Schwartz said. "I think we need that more than anything. I also do believe that he can work across the aisle I mean, I have seen it."

Stuart Snedecor

Stuart Snedecor is a Marine Corps veteran. After serving his country from 1996 to 2000 Snedecor earned a Bachelor of Science in global business finance from ASU. Snedecor holds strong core values and identifies as a person of faith.

Snedecor said it is not easy to be a Republican and a Christian in Arizona and come out in favor of Biden. However, he has chosen to vote for Biden because he can identify with Biden's faith and devotion. He also mentioned Biden's ability to overcome tragedy and said he sees an individual who holds empathy.

 "We have no expectation that this President will produce any good fruit anytime soon because I don't believe he's capable," Snedecor said. "I'm excited to support a candidate and support a president who can produce good fruit, somebody who is capable of producing fruit reconciliation and healing in our country that we so desperately need. And more than anything I want a president who takes responsibility for what's happening around him. Who can level with the American people, to be honest, to make hard choices and that person is Joe Biden.  I'm tired of the divisiveness and the rhetoric, and I want to get back to a president that I can be proud of."

To close the discussion, McCain and Romley provided closing remarks. Both mentioned Biden's ability to put the country before the party and emphasized the importance of voting for someone who will reflect the American people. Romley encouraged those eligible to vote, regardless of who they vote for, as they should exercise their right.