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Republican lawmaker quits party, backs Democrat Clinton

WASHINGTON: A Republican lawmaker in Congress became the first to break with his party over the White House campaign on Tuesday, denouncing presidential candidate Donald Trump as unfit to lead and pledging to vote for Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

The break followed days of dispute between Trump and the parents of a Muslim U.S. Army officer killed in the Iraq war, that has fueled fresh unease among many Republicans over the New York businessman’s policies and style.

In an op-ed piece, Representative Richard Hanna of New York cited Trump’s attacks on the parents, calling the candidate “deeply flawed in endless ways,” “unrepentant” and “self-involved.”

“For me, it is not enough to simply denounce his comments: He is unfit to serve our party and cannot lead this country,” Hanna wrote in the letter posted on syracuse.com, the website of the Post-Standard newspaper in New York.

While some lawmakers have not actively endorsed Trump, Hanna was the first to say he would vote for Clinton in the Nov. 8
election.

Trump has criticized Khizr Khan and Ghazala Khan since they took the stage at last week’s Democratic convention. Khizr Khan
cited their son Humayun Khan’s military service and sacrifice and criticized Trump’s proposed temporary ban on Muslims from
entering the United States.

Many Republicans have expressed support for the parents in recent days, and some have sharply rebuked Trump, most notably
Senate Armed Forces Committee Chairman John McCain, a military veteran and former prisoner of war.

Hanna is retiring from the House and is not seeking re-election, leaving him more leeway to risk upsetting colleagues and voters over his break with Trump.

“While I disagree with her on many issues, I will vote for Mrs. Clinton. I will be hopeful and resolute in my belief that being a good American who loves his country is far more important than parties or winning and losing. I trust she can lead,” Hanna wrote.

In the fallout over Trump’s dispute with the Khans, Republican Senate Majority Leader McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan have also supported the family. Still, top Republican lawmakers have not withdrawn their support for Trump as the party’s presidential pick.

Ryan’s office declined to comment on Hanna’s announcement. – Reuters