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How anti-Trump Republicans are working to defeat him

The opening night of the Democratic National Convention featured several Republicans who plan to vote for Joe Biden in the November election, including John Kasich, former governor of Ohio and a 2016 Republican presidential candidate himself. But some Republican groups, such as the Lincoln Project, are going farther to support a Democratic candidate in ways never before seen. John Yang reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Last night's Democratic Convention featured Republicans who will vote for Joe Biden in the election, including John Kasich, the former governor of Ohio, and 2016 Republican presidential candidate.

    Some Republican groups are going further, supporting a Democratic candidate in ways never seen before.

    Our John Yang has the story.

  • President Donald Trump:

    We want to get our schools open.

  • John Yang:

    With slick ads, viral tweets and op-ed columns…

  • Marchers:

    Jews will not replace us!

  • Narrator:

    America is better than Donald Trump.

  • John Yang:

    New conservative groups are organizing to support an unlikely candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden.

    Rosario Marin was U.S. treasurer in the George W. Bush administration. Now she's a member of the group 43 Alumni for Biden. She says backing a Democrat over a sitting Republican president was difficult.

  • Rosario Marin:

    Prior to him, I had been to five Republican Conventions as a delegate. I have been a spokesperson to five Republican presidential candidates.

    But I couldn't do it for him, and I certainly couldn't do it now. To then go that other step, to go out and vote for a Democrat, it is painful.

  • John Yang:

    Another group, The Lincoln Project, is known for its ads targeting President Trump.

  • Narrator:

    What does it say that he won't condemn the flag of hate?

  • John Yang:

    Political consultant Reed Galen is a co-founder.

  • Reed Galen:

    When we put out the "Trump is not well" advertisement about his shuffle down the ramp at West Point, it clearly pierced his bubble of unreality that he continually lives in.

    And I think that's been our greatest contribution, is pushing him back on his heels, keeping him back on his heels.

  • John Yang:

    On Twitter, President Trump called them "a group of Republicans in name only who failed badly 12 years ago, then again eight years ago, and then got badly beaten by me, a political first-timer, four years ago."

  • Narrator:

    They chose Trump.

  • John Yang:

    But Galen says the group's goals are wider than just getting under the president's skin.

  • Narrator:

    Remember their actions.

  • John Yang:

    They are also challenging senators who support the president.

  • Reed Galen:

    These folks have violated their oaths. They have abdicated their responsibilities as an Article 1 body in the United States Senate. And they have really forsaken any conservative values to support Donald Trump.

  • John Yang:

    The group plans to organize in the battleground states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Arizona, North Carolina, and Florida.

  • Man:

    I'm tired of being embarrassed.

  • Woman:

    I have been riddled with guilt.

  • Woman:

    I am ashamed to this day of voting for him.

  • John Yang:

    Another group, Republican Voters Against Trump, is also targeting battleground states, collecting testimonials from GOP voters disenchanted with the president.

    Conservative activist Sarah Longwell is one of the co-founders.

  • Sarah Longwell:

    People really don't like political ads. But what they're — really find persuasive are actually real stories.

    I have been conducting focus groups for the last three years with what I would call reluctant Trump voters. Those people now are very, very clearly have seen that Donald Trump is not fit for the moment, that he is not the right person to steward the country through compounding crises, a health crisis, an economic crisis, a racial crisis.

  • John Yang:

    But will these Republican-led efforts actually win Biden any votes?

    Republican pollster Jon McHenry is skeptical.

  • Jon McHenry:

    We have already seen a lot of those folks who would have been inclined to go away from Republicans, go away from this president have already done so. So I don't know that there's a lot to work with there for them.

  • John Yang:

    McHenry also points to Mr. Trump's strong approval rating among Republican voters, hovering around 90 percent even during the pandemic. The president says there's more enthusiasm for him than there was in 2016.

  • President Donald Trump:

    I think we're doing very well in the polls. And I think you have a silent majority, the likes of which this country has never seen before. This is a very important election. We have done a great job.

  • John Yang:

    But all three anti-Trump groups say the Democratic nominee presents a unique opportunity.

  • Sarah Longwell:

    One of the most common responses I get in the focus groups to why did you vote for Donald Trump in 2016 is, people say: I didn't vote for Donald Trump. I voted against Hillary Clinton.

    And so it's hard to overstate how much of a difference it makes having Joe Biden as the nominee, as opposed to Hillary Clinton.

  • Rosario Marin:

    I'm going to vote for Joe Biden because whatever I may disagree with him in his policies, I know he knows government. He has been there a long time. He knows how to govern. He knows what he can do and what he cannot do.

  • John Yang:

    And you still consider yourself a Republican?

  • Rosario Marin:

    Yes, a true Republican, a true Republican. I don't know what this guy is.

  • John Yang:

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.

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