As Donald Trump lurches toward a delegate count that would win him the GOP nomination, frightened Republicans have floated yet another alternative plan in the case that he tops the GOP’s 2016 ticket: a third party or independent bid by a respectable conservative who would give voters frustrated by the choice between Trump and Hillary Clinton another option.
It’s an idea that has been touted by #NeverTrump-ers like neocon Bill Kristol and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) who want to stymie the damage they see Trump doing to their party but can’t bring themselves to vote for Clinton. A group of conservative activists and GOP operatives met in Washington last week to discuss the path forward if Republicans were to pursue that alternative. Trump, meanwhile, is warning such a scenario would “destroy the country.”
Experts in ballot access and independent presidential campaigns told TPM that, in a purely logistical sense, a third party or independent presidential bid is still feasible. But whether anti-Trump Republicans literally still have time to get a conservative alternative on the ballot almost misses the point. The effort, which will be costly and still needs big-bucks donors, comes with its own set of political risks that call into question the entire undertaking, including the very real possibility that it will make Hillary Clinton the next president.
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