For many, Donald Trump’s win in Indiana and the immediate bowing out of his competitors signaled the death of the #NeverTrump movement. Shortly after Cruz gave his campaign suspension notice, Republican operatives and lawmakers who feared getting the cold shoulder from a Trump administration quickly changed their tune from loathing and self-righteousness to reluctant party unity. But not all of them were so quick to abandon their posts.
Several top conservative pundits and strategists have opted to double-down on their efforts to stop Trump’s path to the White House, and their plans to do so reek of desperation. Now that the prospect of Cruz or Kasich taking the nomination is no longer an option, and the chances of a dark horse candidate at the convention is all but a pipe dream, #NeverTrump elites have begun conspiring to hand the election over to Hillary Clinton — literally.
Liz Mair, a Republican strategist, spoke to the uber-liberal online publication Mother Jones and divulged some of her ideas for bringing down Trump:
Republican strategist Liz Mair, who has become one of the public faces of the anti-Trump crowd, tells Mother Jones that she’s been having conversations with other leading conservatives opposed to Trump about a variety of backup options… One option, should they fail to recruit a viable candidate to run nationwide, is to get conservative candidates to run independent, single-state bids in as many states as possible.
Mair declined to specify which anti-Trump conservatives were most inclined toward this plan, but she mentioned several potential candidates. While Romney seems unlikely to launch a nationwide presidential bid, perhaps conservatives could convince him to put his name on the ballot in Utah, where he’s popular due to his family roots there and his Mormon faith. Or Scott Walker could run just in Wisconsin, Mair suggests, or Rick Perry in Texas (although Perry endorsed Trump last week). Even non-politicians, she believes, would be better than Trump. “If we’re going to be in the era of celebrities, we could get Clint Eastwood or Kurt Russell,” Mair says.
Mair is hardly the only one throwing around absurd strategies such as this. Bill Kristol, editor of the National Review, the magazine that dedicated an entire issue to bashing Trump, has feverishly been scouting for candidates to run as third party Independents against Trump, hoping that they can siphon off enough votes from Trump to give Hillary the White House and then start over again with an anointed nominee in 2020.
His vocal support for such an insane endeavor eventually prompted the RNC to issue a statement condemning the tactics, correctly stating the plan would hand the presidency to Hillary Clinton.
While establishment types such as Mair and Kristol hide their motives behind the farce that any such third party run even has a statistical chance, others have opted to be honest and openly pledge their support for Clinton. Conservative author and political satirist P.J. O’Rourke declared his support for Hillary during an interview with NPR:
“I am endorsing Hillary, and all her lies and all her empty promises,” O’Rourke continued. “It’s the second worst thing that can happen to this country, but she’s way behind in second place. She’s wrong about absolutely everything, but she’s wrong within normal parameters.”
“This man just can’t be president,” O’Rourke said, alluding to the nuclear codes the Commander-in-Chief takes control of upon assuming office. “They’ve got this button — this briefcase. He’s going to find it.”
It’s hard to imagine a time when a candidate has been accepted and praised so overwhelmingly by the Republican voters — and so despised by its established gatekeepers. If they are victorious in sabotaging Trump’s campaign, they better be mindful of the backlash that is sure to follow from the very base they have made a living speaking down to.