A group of Republicans, including 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, is actively plotting to draft an independent presidential candidate who could keep Donald Trump from the White House, The Washington Post revealed on Saturday.
According to the report, 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, according to The Washington Post.
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, who withdrew from the Republican presidential race on May 4.
Romney is among those who have made personal overtures to both men in recent days, several people with knowledge of the former Massachusetts governor’s activities told the newspaper.
Earlier prospects included former senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and retired Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis. Former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and retired Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal have been bandied about as potentially potent political outsiders.
These anti-Trump Republicans have heard the same tepid response: Thanks, but no thanks, according to The Washington Post.
An obvious possible contestant is Kasich, who portrayed himself in the GOP primaries as a pragmatist with crossover appeal, but Kasich’s advisers have dismissed the idea, according to the report.
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. The idea of running someone as a third party, particularly the way they’re going about it, is not going to be effective and is not practical.”
A Romney representative declined to comment. The former nominee has been stinging in his public critiques of Trump, particularly in one verbal attack in which he described the billionaire as “a phony, a fraud” whose “promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.”
Romney Further accused the GOP frontrunner of threatening America’s future and “playing the American public for suckers.”
The report is not the first time that Republicans were planning a move to counter Trump’s candidacy. In March, after Trump swept four five state primaries in one day, party bigwigs met to lay out a plan to derail the frontrunner’s path to the nomination. It is unknown what became of that effort.