TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – Former Republican Gov. William Milliken (search) of Michigan endorsed Democratic Sen. John Kerry (search) for president on Monday, saying President Bush has pursued policies "pandering to the extreme right wing."
Milliken, governor from 1969-82, accused the Bush administration of rushing into the Iraq war, pushing tax cuts that benefit the rich and blocking meaningful stem-cell research.
"I felt so strongly about the direction of this country that in the end, it wasn't a difficult decision to make," Milliken said in an interview Monday with Traverse City Record-Eagle reporters and editors.
Milliken issued a three-page statement of his views about Bush and domestic and international issues.
"This president has pursued policies pandering to the extreme right wing across a wide variety of issues and has exacerbated the polarization and the strident, uncivil tone of much of what passes for political discourse in this country today," Milliken said in the statement.
Milliken, a moderate Republican, has been critical of Bush and has faulted the GOP on such issues as same-sex marriage, flag-burning and abortion.
The Bush campaign dismissed Milliken's endorsement, saying he led under a different time.
"We didn't have the threat from terrorists who want to kill us," said John Truscott, a spokesman for the Bush campaign. "We didn't have the same kind of war going on. This election and these times demand a strong leader who's decisive and who will tell the truth."