Though it might feel like ages ago, it was less than two weeks ago that Donald Trump’s two remaining competitors on the GOP side suspended their campaigns, rendering Trump the presumptive nominee.
As we reported in the immediate aftermath, Republican establishment types were having a hard time coming to terms with what appears to be the inevitability of Trump as GOP nominee. Former Bush (41) administration official and The Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol even revealed he was working with other establishment Republicans in Washington DC to identify a viable, third-party candidate for president.
While you might have thought those plans would wither over time, as wounds heal — and as other party establishment leaders increasingly begin to soften and unite around Trump — a new report from the Washington Post out today suggests the third-party pipe dream is still alive.
And get a load of who’s been under consideration. The list includes even includes a reality TV show star who could possibly “out-Trump” Trump.
Via Washington Post (H/T The Hill):
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.
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.
Their top recruiting prospects are freshman Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a conservative who has become one of Trump’s sharpest critics, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who withdrew from the 2016 race May 4. Romney is among those who have made personal overtures to both men in recent days, according to several people with knowledge of the former Massachusetts governor’s activities.
The recruiters also delved into the world of reality television for someone who might out-Trump Trump: Mark Cuban, the brash billionaire businessman and owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team.
Again and again, though, these anti-Trump Republicans have heard the same tepid response: Thanks, but no thanks.
“I don’t see it happening,” Cuban wrote in an email.
Cuban, who hosts “Shark Tank,” the ABC reality series in which entrepreneurs pitch investors about their business ideas, said his pursuers — he declined to name them — have told him his “bluster and volume, combined with substance and the ability to connect with voters on a more personal basis,” could make him a winning candidate.
“He could come after me all he wanted, and he knows I would put him in his place,” Cuban said of Trump. “All that said, again, I don’t see it happening. There isn’t enough time.”
Well, if the presidential race were indeed a reality TV show, as so many are treating it, Mark Cuban vs. Donald Trump might make for great entertainment. [Though even as the serious matter that it is, we should be in for some very memorable moments in a Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton general election race.]
Of course, one has to wonder if the attempts to put together a third-party run are just one colossal waste of effort at this point — and even if successfully pulled together, would clinch a certainty of handing the White House to the Democrat’s Hillary Clinton. While many conservatives might applaud a choice like Sen. Ben Sasse — is now really the time for someone like him to be jumping in?
Perhaps as astonishing as some of the possible choices for a third-party candidate (Kasich?!) is one of the group’s related objectives, according to WaPo’s report:
One related objective is to prevent both Clinton and Trump from clinching a majority in the electoral college and thus throwing the presidential election to the House of Representatives, under the provision of the 12th Amendment of the Constitution. This scenario played out in 1824, when Andrew Jackson won a plurality of electoral and popular votes but was defeated in the House by John Quincy Adams.
Just think about that: the House of Representatives, led by Republicans Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Democrat Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, would choose our president?! Gee, wonder how that would turn out.
If it’s any relief, Gov. Kasich’s advisers maintain he is “not entertaining nor will he run as an independent,” — though, to be honest, it sounds more like sour grapes than a real desire not to run. (John Weaver, Kasich’s chief strategist, said of the governor’s courters: “They had plenty of time and opportunity to influence the [GOP] nomination battle in a constructive way, and they didn’t for whatever reason.)
Mitt Romney’s representative, as well as Ben Sasse’s spokesman, declined to comment.
With ballot deadlines looming and some already passed, we surely will know more soon in any case.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]