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Taking a Look at Never Trumpers: Yesterday, a political action committee known as the “Lincoln Project” began a $4 million advertising campaign, targeting Senate races in Alaska, Maine, and Montana. The group, which was formed in late 2019, is led by several prominent Republicans and former Republicans including, George Conway, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver, Rick Wilson, and Jennifer Horn. The goal of the committee is to prevent the reelection of Donald Trump in 2020 and defeat his supporters in the US Senate. In April 2020, the committee announced their endorsement of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden. The Lincoln Project, along with personalities like Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) and former Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake identify themselves as “Never Trumpers.” The slogan embodies those who consider themselves Republicans or Conservatives, but who do not support the current Republican president, Donald Trump. Here’s what both sides are saying about this group:
On the Left: Ashley Parker and Robert Costa say “The once-mocked ‘Never Trump’ movement [has] become a sudden campaign force” in their article for the Washington Post. Parker and Costa note how the “rebellion that began four years ago as a largely ineffective cadre of appalled Republicans, has [since] transformed in recent weeks into a potentially disruptive force in this year’s presidential race.” They point to the Lincoln Project where “there has been a frenzy of activity as the group has gone from a small outfit with a couple million on hand to a viral-video production machine.” Another group called “Republican Voters Against Trump” says they’ve been “heartened by the outpouring of unprompted videos sent their way,” like one showing “a 40-year-old man with a thick Southern accent looking into his smartphone” explaining why 2020 “will mark the first time ‘ever, ever’ that he will vote for a Democrat.” The man named, Josh from North Carolina says that “If Joe Biden drops out and the DNC runs a tomato can, I will vote for the tomato can, because I believe the tomato can will do less harm than our current president.” Go Deeper:
- The Revenge of the Never Trumpers Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes, The Atlantic
- How #NeverTrumpers can live up to their name Julian Zelizer, CNN
On the Right: Bobby Jindal of the Washington Examiner actually calls out the Washington Post for trying to “turn Never Trumpers into a ‘Movement‘”. Jindal writes that “Republicans who hated Donald Trump in 2016 are the same Republicans who hate him now. They’re doing the same things now that they did then, which is — hate Donald Trump and try to hurt him in the election.” Jindal says the Washington Post’s “sweeping declaration” that this a “movement” manifested in “the ingenious idea to make some TV ads!” Jindal asks sarcastically, “Why hadn’t any political group ever thought of that before?” Jindal continues, saying “The article itself even admits that the ‘movement’ remains without any real influence to change the election, and its efforts so far ‘are aimed not at persuading disaffected Republicans but simply at needling the president.'” In another article for the Washington Times Jindal says “Never Trumpers may want to reconsider their political bedmates.” For example, “Senate Democrats are suddenly open to abolishing the filibuster,” and “Never Trumpers [are] fooling themselves if they believe newly empowered Democrats would pursue the ‘nuclear option’ to advance centrist, bipartisan policies,” championed by the new faces such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. At the end of the day, Jindal says, “While The Lincoln Project has targeted the most vulnerable Republican incumbents, including Susan Collins, Thom Tillis, and Cory Gardner ironically they represent swing states and exemplify the moderate Republicans Never Trumpers claim to represent.” Go Deeper:
- Why Never Trump ‘Doesn’t Command Armies Of Voters’ Nathanael Blake, The Federalist
- Never Trump Lincoln Project Caught Lying About President’s July 4 Speech Hannah Bleau, Breitbart
Flag This: According to Gallup, 91% of Republican voters approve of Donald Trump. From the Trump orbit, both administration officials and outside allies are dismissive of groups like the Lincoln Project, which they believe are “scam PACs” run by “beltway swamp creatures whose candidates can’t win,” in the words of one senior administration official. Trump campaign spokeswoman Erin Perrine similarly said, “This is the swamp — yet again — trying to take down the duly elected President of the United States.” The prior two statements are important because they highlight the White House’s defense against “Never Trumpers” by attaching them to one of the three-word slogans that Donald Trump campaigned on during the last election. Besides “Lock Her Up”, the chant “Drain the Swamp” is a Trump rally staple. Never Trumper’s efforts may actually backfire because they personify precisely what Trump voters put him in office to obliterate in 2016: “the swamp.” Zooming out, the Never Trumper strategy doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense, specifically as it relates to Senate attack-ads. If Biden wins and Democrats still control the House, shouldn’t Never Trumpers, who consider themselves Republicans, want to control at least one chamber of Congress as an ideological counterbalance? What’s so wrong with just calling yourself a Democrat? Those are questions for you to think about. As always, we just try to present both sides to provoke thought and maybe some further self-directed research.
Cover Photo: Thousands of protesters came to Ocean Beach in San Francisco Saturday Feb. 11, 2017 to send an anti-Trump message: “Resist!!” They lined up and formed the letters. The first exclamation point is largely pink. I happen to be on a helicopter flight in the area so I was able to take this shot.