In it, but not of it. TPM DC

You know you've made it in Republicans politics when conservatives are circulating your name as a potential savior who would swoop into the presidential race and save the party from Donald Trump.

Whether the plan was stop the real estate mogul with a third party bid or in a brokered convention, #NeverTrump-ers continually ran into the same problem: just whom would they rally around instead?

Next to the graveyard of the legitimate presidential candidates who tried and failed to stop Trump, there's the cemetery of the potential white knights whose campaigns just never got off the ground. Here's a look at some of the more absurd ideas put forward by Republicans seeking to wrest the nomination away from Trump:

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Donald Trump isn't done antagonizing the conservative anti-abortion movement just yet.

The Republican frontrunner suggested Thursday that the GOP platform on abortion should be loosened to permit exceptions for cases of rape, incest or the life of the mother, prompting a major anti-abortion group to accuse Trump of taking a position that "would set back years of hard work in the pro-life movement.”

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Update: This story has been updated to include additional reasoning from some Republicans as to why they plan on skipping the convention.

It's not new that some politicians facing tough re-elections will skip out on national party convention, particularly when associating with the top-of-the-ballot nominee isn't a good look for them.

But the calculus facing GOP lawmakers in the 2016 cycle is particularly ugly. Senators defending seats in purple states might be show up to July's Republican National Convention in Cleveland for a pageant crowning Donald Trump -- who has alienated minorities, women, and many others -- their party leader. Or they might risk getting tangled up for a messy floor battle, in which a candidate perhaps just as toxic ends up wresting away the nomination.

So vulnerable Republicans have come up with some creative ways to explain why they haven't booked their plane tickets to Ohio just yet.

Here are the Republicans thinking about skipping the GOP convention and how they're spinning their reasons:

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This week gave Obamacare foes some health care industry lemons to turn into anti-Affordable Care Act lemonade.

News that the UnitedHealth, a major insurer, is cutting back its involvement in Affordable Care Act exchanges isn’t great news for the Obama administration. But it’s not the sky-is-falling, death-spiral fever dream that conservatives are making it out to be.

The challenges UnitedHealth was facing on the exchanges are legitimate, but rather than a canary in the coal mine of Obamacare doom, health care experts tell TPM, the news of UnitedHealth’s exit should be seen as collateral damage from the general chaos of a industry in transition, and that the specifics of its own business model -- including its strategy in the individual markets in particular -- played an important role in its decision.

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Donald Trump is trying to make his campaign great again.

After losing ground to Ted Cruz in the tedious delegate game, Donald Trump's campaign has a game plan to get their candidate back on track and in a position to lock up 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination and they are making their pitch to Capitol HIll.

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A Saturday meeting of the Virgin Islands Republican Party is perhaps the perfect distillation of just how off the rails things have gotten. There are interloping Michiganders, competing slates of delegates, direct mail schemes and years worth of petty, intra-party shenanigans all on the cusp of boiling over into a potentially contested convention in Cleveland.

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If Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is thinking about dismissing a major immigration lawsuit on a technicality, he wasn’t showing it at Monday’s oral arguments.

The case is U.S. v. Texas, a lawsuit Texas and 25 other states brought challenging President Obama’s 2014 executive action that shielded certain undocumented immigrants from deportation.

An ideological 4-4 split would defer to a lower court’s decision halting the action, so the next best hope defenders of the immigration program had was that Roberts -- who in the past has shown skepticism to suits brought by states against the federal government -- would vote with the liberal justices to throw the case out on the basis that Texas didn’t meet the legal qualification known as "standing" to sue in the first place.

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When President Obama announced his major second term executive actions on immigration, it was almost immediately clear that it would lead to a Supreme Court showdown. But now that the case is finally at the high court, the conservative forces pushing it will be without a major ally, with Justice Scalia's unexpected death in February.

All eyes at Monday's oral arguments will be on Chief Justice John Roberts to gauge how he will navigate his court through an already hyper-political case that the vacant seat further complicates.

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Paul Ryan, the budget wunderkind who was elected speaker only after a united House GOP dragged him into the job, is finding himself in the exact same position as former House Speaker John Boehner: unable to find consensus in his conference.

Just months after being elected as speaker with the promise he'd return the House to what is called "regular order," Ryan will miss an April 15 deadline to pass a budget even as he still seeks to find consensus around one.

"It's important for Paul," said Rep. Peter King (R-NY) on passing a budget. "It's important to anyone who is speaker, I think because it is what we are supposed to be doing. It is regular order. And with him being budget chairman and even apart from that, it lays out the roadmap for the House for the year."

The irony for Ryan is that the budget debacle unfolding on his watch is more about perception than an actual legislative crisis. Under a fiscal agreement struck between outgoing House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama, there is already a 2017 funding bill in place, a parting gift from Boehner that was intended to save Ryan from the kind of high profile vote wrangling he is facing now as GOP schisms bubble up in an election year.

Ryan, however, had made a pledge to bring back "regular order" and restore the budget process to the committees, all an effort to encourage his conference to feel a stake in the process and unite his party.

Ryan's token of goodwill appears to be backfiring.

"Part of the problem is we're a victim of the success of the fact that we have appropriations numbers already in law. We already have an agreement in law," Ryan said Thursday during a press conference. "That has taken pressure off of the budget situation and that is one of the challenges we are dealing with."

The disagreement raging in the House is over how much Republicans should set out to spend with their top line number. House Budget Chairman Tom Price released a budget plan earlier this year that set discretionary spending at $1.07 trillion for 2017 but some conservatives in the House wanted to see $30 billion less in spending. Ryan has said he still wants to see a budget, but the intransigence of the far right could prove impossible to untangle without a looming deadline.

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