Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen, a Republican from Maine, announced Wednesday that he is endorsing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

“We have a choice in November; whether to go back to our dark past or reach for who we aspire to be – a country where it doesn’t matter where you came from, how you worship or who you love, a country where everyone matters. I’m voting for Joe Biden because our democracy is at stake,” Cohen said in a statement released by the Biden campaign. “Americans are suffering through the worst pandemic in a hundred years, a pandemic predicted to kill close to 200,000 Americans by Election Day due to poor management and failed leadership. Our nation has been shaken to the core during the last four years. We are in serious need of a leader with optimism and competence who gives us hope. Joe Biden is that leader.”

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Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen. Natalie Williams/The Bangor Daily News via Associated Press

Cohen, who turns 80 on Friday, served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before he was elected to the Senate in 1978. The Bangor native also served three terms in the Senate – alongside Biden, a longtime senator from Delaware – before then-President Bill Clinton tapped him to serve as his secretary of defense.

Cohen’s endorsement of Biden was not unexpected. He has frequently appeared on television or written opinion pieces in national publications during Trump’s first term in office condemning some of the president’s more controversial actions and statements.

Several Republicans already have said they will not support their party’s president, including former senators Jeff Flake of Arizona, John Warner of Virginia and Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire, as well as several former U.S. House members and others, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who faces a tough re-election race, spent more than a decade as a staff member in Cohen’s Senate office in the 1970s and 1980s and has called him one of her biggest mentors in politics. Collins did not support Trump in 2016 but has refused to say this year if she plans to vote for him. She has said that she will not campaign against Biden, with whom she has served in the Senate.


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