Republicans Toss ‘Weird Hail Mary’ Pass Against Donald Trump With Third-Party Candidate

Group including William Kristol has even considered one of Trump’s fellow reality stars

Last Updated: May 16, 2016 @ 10:16 AM

A group of anti-Trump Republicans is uniting for a last-ditch effort to draft an independent candidate who can keep Donald Trump out of the White House.

According to a report by the Washington Post, the group — which includes commentators William Kristol and Erick Erickson, as well as strategists Mike Murphy, Stuart Stevens and Rick Wilson — is essentially looking for someone (anyone) who can get just enough votes to stop both Trump and Hillary Clinton from getting the required 270 electoral votes needed to clinch the presidency.

If that happens — and that’s a big if — the House of Representatives would choose the next president — to be named later.

“We’d like to provide American voters with a choice they can be happy with and like,” Wilson, a longtime Republican consultant who has spent months waging war on Trump’s candidacy, told Recode. “Someone who would touch the right conservative hot buttons, who doesn’t have the off-putting and troublesome aspects of personality that Donald Trump displays.”

Among the names being floated are Mitt Romney — possibly on a ticket with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. But according to Recode, people close to Romney have dismissed the idea, calling it a “weird Hail Mary thing.” While Cruz told reporters he has “no interest” in a third-party bid.

The Washington Post also names other prospects, including freshman Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a conservative critic of Trump, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who withdrew from the Republican presidential race earlier this month.

Others reportedly being considered are former senator Tom Coburn, retired Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, retired Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The Never Trump movement even tried approaching one of the presumptive GOP nominee’s fellow billionaire reality stars, businessman Mark Cuban. But the Dallas Mavericks owner said he doesn’t “see it happening,” and has voiced his support for Trump.

With the passage of Texas’ deadline last Monday, it’s now too late to get an independent presidential candidate on the ballot in all 50 states. Furthermore, no independent candidate has ever been elected president (Teddy Roosevelt came closest, capturing 27 percent of the popular vote as the Bull Moose Party’s nominee in 1922).

But this group of “Never Trump” Republicans says it’s still holding out hope.

“There is such a thing as chatter and wishful chatter,” a Silicon Valley source with ties to national Republican presidential campaigns and the tech community told Recode. “This is wishful chatter.”

And just to prove that there is still a chance, Wilson said he’s already rounded up preliminary financial commitments, describing the venture as a “political startup.”

“If we find the right person … the rest is trivial. Finding the correct candidate who’s the correct fit for this year of political craziness and anxiety, getting that person on deck would unlock a whole lot of resources that would run a third-party campaign,” he told Recode.