Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman once ran as a Republican for the California gubernatorial seat, served on the campaigns of GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and N.J. Gov. Chris Christie and has used her considerable wealth to back other Republican candidates as well.
Now Whitman says she will not only vote for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, but also will raise money for her and her super PAC and will encourage her Republican contacts to do the same.
In an interview with the New York Times and a posting on Facebook, the HPE CEO said that despite differences she has with Clinton on a broad range of issues, the threat that GOP candidate Donald Trump represents to the United States made it incumbent on Republicans to "put country first before party."
"To vote Republican out of party loyalty alone would be to endorse a candidacy that I believe has exploited anger, grievance, xenophobia and racial division," Whitman wrote on her Facebook page, savaging Trump for being "reckless and uninformed positions on critical issues. … Trump's unsteady hand would endanger our prosperity and national security. His authoritarian character could threaten much more."
Whitman's endorsement is a significant win for Clinton, who along with other speakers at last month's Democratic National Convention made it clear they were wooing Republican leaders and donors who may be increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of a Trump presidency. Whitman has been vocal of her distaste for the real estate mogul, calling him a demagogue and reportedly comparing him to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini during a private gathering of Republican donors earlier this year. She told the New York Times she "absolutely" stood by her comments, and said a Trump presidency posed a significant risk to the country.
Noting that other democratic societies had disappeared after a few hundred years in existence, she said those who don't believe the United States could see a similar fate are being naïve.
"Time and again history has shown that when demagogues have gotten power or come close to getting power, it usually does not end well." Whitman told the Times, adding that Trump had already "undermined the character of the nation."
Whitman's comments came after a difficult couple of weeks for Trump, which included a Republican National Convention that was marred by various controversies, an ongoing feud with the parents of a Muslim-American soldier killed in Iraq, wrongly asserting that Russia had not entered Ukraine and kicking a baby and its mother out of one of his rallies.
The HPE CEO has been a vocal critic of Trump since he declared his candidacy a year ago. She endorsed Christie's campaigned and chaired his campaign finance efforts, but blasted him after Christie dropped out of the race in February and threw his support behind Trump. She called Christie's decision "an astonishing display of political opportunism" and called Trump a "dishonest demagogue" who is "unfit to be president."
Whitman told the Times she spoke with Clinton last month but held back a decision until after the parties' conventions were done. She said she was pleased with Clinton's choice of Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., as her running mate. Whitman will now push other Republicans to throw their support behind Clinton, saying in her Facebook post that the former secretary of state's "temperament, global experience and commitment to America's bedrock national values make her the far better choice in 2016 for President of the United States. … I urge all Republicans to reject Donald Trump this November."
An aide to Whitman told the Times that the CEO will give financial support of at least in the mid-six figures to Clinton and her campaign.