A band of exasperated Republicans -- including 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a handful of veteran consultants and members of the conservative intelligentsia -- is actively plotting to draft an independent presidential candidate who could keep Donald Trump from the White House.Are they really doing this because they're "so repulsed" by Trump? Maybe to some extent. For Vietnam chickenhawks like Bill Kristol and Mitt Romney, I think there are delusions of grandeur involved -- as with advocacy of the Iraq War, they can tell themselves that this is their World War II, that history has summoned them and they're standing up to totalitarian tyranny (without, y'know, actually experiencing any physical risk).
These GOP figures are commissioning private polling, lining up major funding sources and courting potential contenders, according to interviews with more than a dozen Republicans involved in the discussions. The effort has been sporadic all spring but has intensified significantly in the 10 days since Trump effectively locked up the Republican nomination.
Those involved concede that an independent campaign at this late stage is probably futile, and they think they have only a couple of weeks to launch a credible bid. But these Republicans -- including commentators William Kristol and Erick Erickson and strategists Mike Murphy, Stuart Stevens and Rick Wilson -- are so repulsed by the prospect of Trump as commander in chief that they are desperate to take action.
But what about the rest of them? I think this is a factor:
THEORY: This isn’t really about derailing Trump. It’s about trying to append an asterisk to Clinton’s victory.https://t.co/0hnxOvhScH— Jamison Foser (@jamisonfoser) May 14, 2016
Bill Clinton didn't win a majority of the popular vote in either of his elections, thanks to Ross Perot. Republicans never stopped pointing that out, and many in the press bought the notion that Clinton didn't have a mandate. Some #NeverTrumpers might want to hobble Hillary the same way.
But I think the main motivation is this:
Donald Trump’s campaign is considering hitting his Republican enemies where it hurts: Their wallets.For the general election campaign, #NeverTrumpers want to keep up a revenue stream somehow, and this is a way to do it.
As Trump moves to work in closer concert with the Republican National Committee apparatus, some campaign aides and allies are pushing him to block lucrative party contracts from consultants who worked to keep him from winning the nomination, according to four sources familiar with the discussions.
“The Never Trump vendors and supporters shouldn’t be in striking distance of the RNC, any of its committees or anyone working on behalf of Donald Trump,” said a Trump campaign official.
And beyond that, I bet they were spooked by recent polls showing Trump in a tight race with Clinton nationally and in battleground states. What would happen to them in the next four years if Trump were to win? They might have to get real jobs. That's not a viable option! They have to do something!
Well, whatever beats Trump is fine by me. We'll be told Hillary has no mandate even if she wins a two-candidate race in a landslide, just because she ran against Donald Trump, so if she wins a three-way race, great. Go ahead, #NeverTrumpers. Bring on whatever sap you can cajole into running.