Former five-term Republican Senator John Warner endorsed Hillary Clinton on Wednesday; a major cross-party coup for the Democratic nominee in a critical swing state.
"If there's one thing you've got to understand about Candidate Clinton, she has throughout her life prepared, done her homework and studied," Warner said.
Today, Warner said Clinton, and not his own party's candidate Donald Trump, is best suited to lead America's military, saying she "is the one that is fit and ready to lead our great free country."
Fellow Republican, former Virginia Second District Representative G. William Whitehurst, agreed.
"I simply don't believe Trump has the best qualities to be President of the United States," he said. "He has contradicted himself. He is impulsive."
Dr. Rachel Bitecofer of the Christopher Newport University Wason Center for Public Policy said the Warner endorsement is important.
"Having somebody within the state of Virginia is extremely important to her because the one demographics group she needs to shore up would be the military community," she said.
"For 30 years, Virginians trusted John Warner in the Senate, and for good reason: he has dedicated his life to defending our country, from serving in the Navy in World War II to chairing the Senate Armed Services Committee, where I had the honor of working with him to support our men and women in uniform and their families,” Clinton wrote in a statement accepting Warner’s endorsement.
“I am proud to have John's support, and to know that someone with his decades of experience would trust me with the weighty responsibility of being Commander in Chief," the statement continued.
Warner’s endorsement comes as polls have tightened somewhat in Virginia, a state Clinton led by double-digits in the weeks immediately following the party conventions.
In an interview with WUSA9 before the endorsement was made public on Tuesday, Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook said the Clinton campaign was not taking her lead in Virginia for granted, and pointed to the military vote as an opportunity for Clinton to build support in the commonwealth. Warner’s endorsement could appeal to those voters.
“Virginians understand the threat that Donald Trump would pose to our security, and also the danger that he would pose as the person in command of our men and women in uniform,” Mook told WUSA9.
The Democratic Party of Virginia Chairwoman Susan Swecker released the following statement after former Republican Virginia Senator John Warner endorsed Hillary Clinton for president:
Former Republican Senator John Warner's endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president is a truly momentous occasion and it speaks volumes about her qualifications. Senator Warner is a true Virginian in every sense of the definition: he’s a statesman, World War II Veteran, and believes in putting his country and Commonwealth first. Commonsense Republicans support Hillary Clinton because she brings the experience, judgment, and leadership skills to serve as president.
Virginia Republicans also weighed in. The Republican National Committee's Virginia Communications Director, praised Warner's service. Garren Shipley told WVEC, "We have a lot of respect for Senator Warner," but he said this endorsement won't help Clinton, noting that it "really shows the weakness and lack of qualifications on her part."