Tom Ridge, who led the Department of Homeland Security from its creation in 2003 until February 2005, made the remarks in Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania capital, just a short distance from where Trump addressed a rally in Hershey later in the day.
“I am disappointed and troubled by the very fact that my president – and he is my president – would ask a foreign leader of a troubled country who’s been besieged by an enemy of the United States, to do him a political favor,” Ridge said at a renewable energy event sponsored by the Pennsylvania Conservative Energy Forum, PennLive.com reported.
“As far as I’m concerned, it is abuse of power,” he said.
Ridge, now 74, was a Republican governor of Pennsylvania from 1995 until 2001, when he resigned soon after taking the job of homeland security adviser to former President George W. Bush following the terror attacks of Sept. 11. The adviser job eventually evolved into the Cabinet-level position it remains today.
He made it clear that he won’t support Trump in 2020 and has said previously that he didn’t support Trump in 2016. He said his 2020 choice will be whichever candidate can bring “experience and demeanor and global perspective” to the job, be it a Republican or a Democrat.
But he won’t publicly endorse a Democrat, he added.
“I’m going to wait and see what the Democrats do before I make my final decision,” he told PennLive. “People know how I feel about Trump so obviously I will be looking for an alternative. If not, as I’ve said to folks before, I wrote in the names of two Republican governors before because I love govs.”
Ridge added that he thinks Trump’s handling of foreign policy has allowed other countries to assert their own agendas, particularly Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin “has got to be one of the happiest world leaders,” Ridge said.
“Even in his wildest imagination he never imagined when he played in our election in 2016, and he’s playing with it in 2019 and 2020, that he would have four years of incredible political destabilization because of what he did and he’ll keep doing it.”