Anti-Trump Republicans Face Big Challenge Launching Third Party By Reuters

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By Tim Reid, James Oliphant, David Morgan, and Joseph Ax. it has favored bipartisan government throughout its history. Reuters exclusively reported Wednesday that more than 120 Republicans, including former elected officials, along with former Trump administrators and former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush and George W. Bush, met virtually on February 5 to discuss the formation. of a third party or a new center-right faction. Two of the most prominent anti-Trump Republicans in Congress, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, rejected the idea of ​​a separatist party in remarks to Reuters on Thursday. Other Republican critics of Trump expressed similar skepticism, arguing that a third party would accomplish little more than split the votes of the Conservatives and help the Democrats get elected. Resistance to a third party among some of Trump’s harshest Republican critics underscores the extreme difficulty of such a political revolt. Such an effort would require moving away from the GOP’s huge political infrastructure – staff, money, connections, and data on donors and voters – that would take years, if not decades, to build from scratch. An upstart party would also have little chance of success without a charismatic leader who could capture the loyalty of millions of disgruntled voters, said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist who was a senior adviser on the Republican primary campaign of Marco Rubio, a Florida senator. , in 2016. “If anyone was going to start a third party that was going to gain some traction, it would be Trump” and not his opponents, Conant said. Kinzinger joined the anti-Trump group’s Feb. 5 video conference and spoke for about five minutes, a spokeswoman told Reuters. But the congressman wants to “reform the party from within,” he said. He recently formed a new political action committee to support Republican primary contenders competing against pro-Trump Republicans in the House of Representatives, such as Matt Gaetz of Florida and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. A Cheney spokesman told Reuters in a statement that he opposes “any effort to divide the party,” saying it would only make it easier for Democrats to enact policies that conservatives oppose. Both Cheney and Kinzinger were among the 10 House Republicans, a small minority, who voted to accuse Trump of inciting the January 6 insurrection on the US Capitol. A more likely outcome of an anti-Trump move would be for centrist Republicans to try to purge Trumpism from their own ranks, said David Jolly, a former Florida Republican congressman who recently resigned from the party in protest against Trump and declared himself independent. . A party of center-right conservatives could never create a coalition broad enough to win the national elections, Jolly said. And Trump has effectively undermined his more moderate opponents among Republican voters, he said, ridiculing them as “Never trumpeters” and “RINO” (Republicans in name only). “It is simply impossible to escape the ‘never Trump’ label,” he said. Others argue that it would be much more difficult to wrest power over the Republican Party from Trump. “Make no mistake; we are not going to change this party,” said Jim Glassman, former George W. Bush undersecretary of state. Glassman made a five-minute presentation on the February 5 call advocating for a new party. Any effort to get the party back would be “soul-killing work,” he told participants. He told Reuters on Thursday that he sees the Republican Party now completely enslaved by Trump, and beyond repair. “I thought if Trump lost by 7 million votes, there might be a possibility of doing it,” he said in an interview. “But events since the elections have made it clear that this will not happen.” When asked Wednesday about discussions for a third party, Jason Miller, a Trump spokesman, said: “These losers left the Republican Party when they voted for Joe Biden.” DIVIDED STRATEGY Glassman believes there are enough Republican donors who are disgusted with Trump and willing to fund a new party. He believes that a new conservative party could also attract perhaps a fifth of Republican voters who disapprove of Trump, along with some independents and Democrats. In addition, he said, running third-party candidates in the House and Senate elections would force Trump candidates to veer to the center in general elections and moderate the strident partisanship of those races. Many people at the virtual meeting on February 5 agreed with Glassman. In a survey of participants, about 40% of attendees supported creating an entirely new party, according to a source with direct knowledge of the discussions. About 20% were in favor of creating a faction within the party, and an equal number supported the creation of a faction outside the party, although it was unclear exactly how such an independent faction would function. While they disagreed on the strategy, meeting participants said, attendees rallied in the need to organize and advocate for a return to “principled conservatism” that values ​​the rule of law and adherence to the Constitution. ideals they believe Trump has violated. Among the group at the February 5 meeting was Elizabeth Neumann, a former deputy chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security under Trump. She is enraged by Republican lawmakers’ continued support for Trump in the wake of his stolen election claims, which she had repeatedly warned, prior to the January 6 riots in the US Capitol, that it could lead to violence. Now she wants to politically target the legislators who voted, in the hours after the deadly insurrection, to overturn the result of the presidential elections, and she is open to any strategy that might work. “I hear arguments that we should break up and form a new party, or we should stay within the party. There will come a time when this will crystallize,” Neumann told Reuters on Thursday. “At the moment, I am more focused on individual people and holding them accountable.” THIRD PARTY FAILURE HISTORY Historically, third parties have generally failed in US elections, particularly at the presidential level, and often serve as spoilers rather than true contenders. Theodore Roosevelt, a charismatic war hero, had served two previous terms as president, but lost in 1912 when he ran for the Progressive Party (NYSE 🙂 – or “Bull Moose” – candidate, finishing second, with more votes than the candidate. republican. in a three-way race that was eventually won by Democrat Woodrow Wilson. That was the last time a third-party candidate got more votes than either of the two main party presidential candidates. More recently, the most successful third-party candidate was Texas billionaire Ross Perot, whose 1992 self-funded Reform Party campaign earned him 19% of the vote in a race won by Democrat Bill Clinton, who overthrew the current Reform Party. Republican President George HW Bush. In other cases, supporters of losing presidential candidates have blamed third-party candidates for swaying voters. In 2016, some supporters of Democrat Hillary Clinton were frustrated by Green Party candidate Jill Stein, whose share of the vote was greater than Clinton’s margin of defeat in key states. Republican Senator Rand Paul, asked about the prospects for a new party, told Reuters: “That would be a good way to let the Democrats always win.” Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn laughed when asked by Reuters about a possible third party. “More power to them,” he said. Cornyn, however, predicted that shared opposition to President Biden’s agenda will keep Republicans together. He said he hopes life in the Republican Party will go back to something more normal in Trump’s absence. “It’s driven us all a little crazy,” Cornyn said. (This story corrects the attribution to a Cheney spokesperson, not Cheney, in the eighth paragraph)