The other shoe has finally dropped. As Donald Trump inches closer to becoming the Republican nominee, top conservatives are meeting this week to plot a third party run against Trump.
Three influential leaders in the conservative movement have summoned other top conservatives for a closed-door meeting this Thursday in Washington D.C. to talk about how to stop Donald Trump and, should he become the Republican nominee, how to run a third-party “true conservative” challenger in the fall.
The organizers of the meeting include Bill Wichterman, who was President George W. Bush’s liaison to the conservative movement, Bob Fischer, a South Dakota businessman and longtime conservative convener, and Erick Erickson, the outspoken Trump opponent and conservative activist who founded RedState.com.
One person involved in the gathering described it as in the “embryonic” stages.“ It’s not like there’s a royal grand plan that’s going to be unfurled,” this person said. “People aren’t giving up on the Republican Party yet.”
The plotters are getting together to start planning in case Donald Trump does really well on Tuesday night. For conservatives who are looking for a third party candidate, the idea that Marco Rubio could be available after the results of the Florida Republican primary come in has to be very tempting. The Republican establishment hates Trump, but they love Rubio as a candidate. Would Marco Rubio run third party in 2016 just to deny Trump the White House? Maybe.
The reality is that the Republican anti-Trumpers can easily get enough money together to mount a challenge to Trump in November, and if the Republican Party splits itself in two, the winner will be the Democratic nominee. Unlike 1992, what Republicans are considering isn’t a Ross Perot situation. There is a possibility that the 2016 general election could be contested by the Republican nominee, the Democratic nominee, and a Republican, who would be running as an Independent.
If the third party run happens, it will be another step in the Republican Party’s split into two parties. Since neither side in the GOP’s endless civil war can gain an upper hand, it has become more probable that the Republican Party would split into two parties. A third party run by a Republican could be viewed as a one-time event to stop Trump, but the truth is that the Republican Party was fractured long before Trump showed up on the scene.
A third party Independent run by a conservative would hand the election to the Democrats in 2016, but maybe that’s what the anti-Trump faction of the GOP wants? Republicans might prefer to face a Democratic incumbent in 2020 instead of being stuck with possibly eight years of Trump.
Nothing may come from the third party talk, but the fact that conservatives are holding meetings reveals the depth of the disarray that has consumed the Republican Party. Democrats are ready to take advantage of a Republican Party that has completely torn itself apart.