An influential group of conservatives are calling are seeking support for a third-party candidate in an effort to thwart the advance of GOP candidate Donald Trump. Despite his immense popularity, and his success in bringing in people to support a Republican candidacy, Trump has been the focus of certain blocs that have traditionally supported Republican candidates. And among Republicans, there are also plans to stump Trump this November. Among them are Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts.
Max Boot, a foreign policy adviser to Senator Marco Rubio, told that for the first time in his life he may vote against a Republican nominee. Russell Moore, who heads the political arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, said he had been asked by scores of requests for guidance from fellow evangelicals on whether to vote for Trump or Hillary Clinton. Alluding to a recent kerfluffle that ensued when white supremacist David Duke endorsed Trump, Moore said he cannot support any candidate who “stirs up racial animosity” or supports abortion. There had been widespread discussion about seeking “a conservative independent or third-party candidate.”
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey this week found that 48 percent of Republicans who do not already back Trump said they would probably not or definitely not support him in November.
Among influential conservatives advancing against Trump is William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine. Kristol said he is actively seeking to put forward an independent Republican ticket if Trump becomes the party’s nominee. The New York Times reported that Kristol said in an email that the independent ticket would be a “one-time, emergency adjustment to the unfortunate circumstance (if it happens) of a Trump nomination.” However, Kristol said the independent movement would support GOP candidates for Congress and other offices. There are reports that Kristol would support Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) as an alternative candidate.
Other Republicans have denounced Trump in forceful terms but say they will support the eventual Republican nominee. House Speaker Paul Ryan, for example, did not call for Trump to step out of the race when he was interviewed on Fox News today. Even so, Ryan rebuked Trump for what some have termed an evasive response to racist Duke’s endorsement.
On March 1, after winning in several states, Trump dismissed the idea of an independent Republican ticket: “They’ll just lose everything, and that would be the work of a loser.”
Earlier this week, Sasse set a fire on Twitter with a post in which he wrote that he would prefer an independent “conservative option” over Trump. Representative Scott Rigell (R-VA) said he would support neither Clinton nor Trump. He claims that many members of his party in the House of Representatives share his views.
The aspirations of libertarians among Republicans appear to be soaring. For example, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is seeking to run again. He ran on the Libertarian ticket in 2012.
If the past is prologue, then previous Republican efforts to run against members of their own party may provide a model. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) won a write-in campaign in 2010 against a conservative. In 1994, a former Republican state attorney general ran as an independent against Oliver North, who was running as a Republican in a Senate race.
Among influential conservatives advancing against Trump is William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine. Kristol said he is actively seeking to put forward an independent Republican ticket if Trump becomes the party’s nominee. The New York Times reported that Kristol said in an email that the independent ticket would be a “one-time, emergency adjustment to the unfortunate circumstance (if it happens) of a Trump nomination.” However, Kristol said the independent movement would support other GOP candidates for Congress and other offices.
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