Jonathan Swan writes at The Hill of the “fizzling out” of the “Never Trump” movement’s efforts to launch a third party candidate against the GOP’s presumptive nominee.
An effort by prominent conservatives to recruit a third party candidate to run against Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is fizzling out.
A serious third party run would cost millions, and GOP donors have so far been reluctant to embrace a bid.
No major political star has stepped forward publicly so far to be a third-party candidate either, and possible recruits, such as Mitt Romney and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), have ruled out doing so.
Polls also indicate that Republicans around the country are coming around to Trump now he’s their presumptive nominee. A Public Policy Polling survey found Republicans are as unified around Trump as Democrats are around Clinton, with 72 percent or Republicans saying they are comfortable with him as their nominee.
Critics of Trump say the businessman’s fast-approaching victory in the primary contest — every other Republican candidate has now dropped out — also gives weight to arguments that those pushing a third-party effort are effectively ignoring GOP voters.
Erick Erickson, the influential conservative pundit who founded RedState.com, believes that if no outside candidate emerges by the end of May, then the third party movement is as good as dead.
“The reason it has to be by the end of May is because once June starts the Democrat air war begins and a lot of conversation is going to begin to be drowned out,” said Erickson, who is a leading figure in the conservative movement to draft a third party candidate.
Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, another prominent face in the third-party push, sounded disappointment with Trump’s meetings with Ryan and other Republicans on Thursday.
“It is depressing as a Republican and a conservative to see Donald Trump making this triumphal procession…through Washington with the Republican leadership of the Republican National Committee and the House and Senate basically capitulating to him,” he said Thursday on MSNBC.
“Unification means capitulation,” Kristol added.
Erickson said his ad-hoc group exploring third-party options estimates it would cost at least $250 million to run a campaign.
It’s not just advertising that needs to be bought. Ballot access in all 50 states would likely require costly court action given that some deadlines, including Texas’s, have already passed.
Billionaire GOP donors on record as opposing Trump are skeptical at best about such an effort.
Hedge fund manager Paul Singer and the Ricketts family – who combined have spent at least $7 million opposing Trump – have told associates that they are theoretically open to the idea of funding a third party bid.
But privately, several GOP fundraising sources in interviews with The Hill scoffed at the idea of a third party candidate as a fevered dream of elite conservatives who are hopelessly out of touch.