Stop Trump movement
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The Stop Trump movement, also called the anti-Trump movement and the Never Trump movement, is the informal name for the concerted effort on the part of some Republicans and other prominent conservatives to prevent front-runner Donald Trump from obtaining the Republican Party presidential nomination, and, following his presumptive nomination, the presidency, for the 2016 United States presidential election.
The movement gained momentum following Trump's wins in the March 15, 2016, Super Tuesday primaries, including his victory over U.S. Senator Marco Rubio in Florida. After U.S. Senator Ted Cruz dropped out of the race following Trump's primary victory in Indiana on May 3, 2016, Trump became the presumptive nominee, while internal opposition to Trump remained as the process pivoted towards a general election. However, Cruz announced on May 10, 2016 that he would consider re-entering the race if he won the Nebraska primary, which he did not, losing to Trump. Cruz's campaign is still active as of today regardless of whether he suspended his campaign or not.
Trump entered the Republican primaries on June 16, 2015, at a time when Governors Jeb Bush and Scott Walker and Senator Marco Rubio were viewed as the early frontrunners. Trump was generally considered a longshot to win the nomination, but his large media profile gave him a chance to spread his message and appear in the Republican debates. By the end of 2015, Trump was leading the Republican field in national polls. Despite Trump's enduring strength in the polls, his rivals continued to attack each other rather than Trump. In this atmosphere, some Republicans, such as former Mitt Romney adviser Alex Castellanos, called for a "negative ad bliz" against Trump, and another former Romney aide founded Our Principles PAC to attack Trump. After Trump won the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries, many Republican leaders called for the party to unite around a single leader to stop Trump's nomination.
On March 17, 2016, notable conservatives under the leadership of Erick Erickson met at the Army and Navy Club in Washington D.C. to discuss strategies for preventing Trump from securing the presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention in July. Among the strategies discussed were a "unity ticket", a possible third-party candidate and a contested convention, especially if Trump does not gain the 1,237 delegates necessary to secure the nomination.
The meeting was organized by Erick Erickson, Bill Wichterman, and Bob Fischer. Around two dozen people attended. Consensus was reached that Trump's nomination could be prevented, and that efforts would be made to seek a unity ticket, possibly comprising U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich.
By political organizations
Our Principles, a political action committee (PAC) and Club for Growth have also been involved in trying to prevent Trump's nomination. Our Principles PAC has spent more than $13 million on advertising attacking Trump.
At a luncheon in February 2016 attended by Republican governors and donors, Karl Rove discussed the danger of Trump securing the Republican nomination in July, and that it may be possible to stop him, but that there was not much time left.
Early in March 2016, Mitt Romney directed some of his advisors to look at ways to stop Trump from obtaining the nomination at the Republican National Convention (RNC). Romney also spoke publicly urging voters to vote for the Republican candidate most likely to prevent Trump from acquiring delegates in state primaries. A few weeks later, Romney announced that he would vote for Ted Cruz in the Utah GOP caucuses. On his Facebook page, he posted "Today, there is a contest between Trumpism and Republicanism. Through the calculated statements of its leader, Trumpism has become associated with racism, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, vulgarity and, most recently, threats and violence. I am repulsed by each and every one of these."
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham shifted from opposing both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, to eventually supporting Cruz as a better alternative to Trump. Commenting about Trump, Graham said "I don't think he's a Republican, I don't think he's a conservative, I think his campaign's built on xenophobia, race-baiting and religious bigotry. I think he'd be a disaster for our party and as Senator Cruz would not be my first choice, I think he is a Republican conservative who I could support." In May, after Trump became the presumptive nominee, Graham announced he would not be supporting Trump in the general election, stating "[I] cannot, in good conscience, support Donald Trump because I do not believe he is a reliable Republican conservative nor has he displayed the judgment and temperament to serve as Commander in Chief."
Other Republicans who have refused to support Trump:
- Elected and Cabinet-level officials (current and former)
- Justin Amash, U.S. Representative from Michigan
- Charlie Baker, 72nd Governor of Massachusetts
- George H. W. Bush, former 41st President of the United States and former 11th Director of Central Intelligence
- George W. Bush, former 43rd President of the United States and former 46th Governor of Texas
- Jeb Bush, former 43rd Governor of Florida and former 2016 presidential candidate (refused to honor the signed GOP pledge to support the Republican nominee)
- Norm Coleman, former U.S. Senator from Minnesota
- Ted Cruz, U.S. Senator from Texas and former 2016 presidential candidate (refused to honor the signed GOP pledge to support the Republican nominee and did not completely shut down his own campaign)
- Ken Cuccinelli, former 46th Attorney General of Virginia and former 2013 Virginia gubernatorial candidate
- Carlos Curbelo, U.S. Representative from Florida
- Robert Dold, U.S. Representative from Illinois
- Richard L. Hanna, U.S. Representative from New York
- Bob Inglis, former U.S. Representative from South Carolina
- John Kasich, 69th Governor of Ohio and former 2016 presidential candidate (refused to honor the signed GOP pledge to support the Republican nominee)
- Mel Martinez, former U.S. Senator from Florida
- Susana Martinez, 31st Governor of New Mexico and chairperson of the Republican Governors Association
- George Pataki, former 53rd Governor of New York and former 2016 presidential candidate (refused to honor the signed GOP pledge to support the Republican nominee)
- Ron Paul, former U.S. Representative from Texas and former 1988, 2008 and 2012 presidential candidate
- Reid Ribble, U.S. Representative from Wisconsin
- Tom Ridge, 1st United States Secretary of Homeland Security
- E. Scott Rigell, U.S. Representative from Virginia
- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, U.S. Representative from Florida
- Paul Ryan, 54th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
- Mark Sanford, U.S. Representative from South Carolina and former 115th Governor of South Carolina
- Ben Sasse, U.S. Senator from Nebraska
- J.C. Watts, former U.S. Representative from Oklahoma
- William Weld, former 68th Governor of Massachusetts (running for Vice-President as a Libertarian)
- Christine Todd Whitman, former 9th Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and former 50th Governor of New Jersey
- Dave Yost, Ohio State Auditor
- Government officials (current and former)
- Linda Chavez, former Director of the Office of Public Liaison
- Eliot A. Cohen, former Counselor to the United States Department of State
- Tony Fratto, former Deputy Assistant and Deputy Press Secretary to former President George W. Bush
- Matt Kibbe, former Chief of Staff to former Sen. Dan Miller
- William Kristol, former Chief of Staff to the Vice President of the United States
- 121 "[M]embers of the Republican national security community,[who] represent a broad spectrum of opinion on America's role in the world and what is necessary to keep us safe and prosperous... are united in our opposition to a Donald Trump presidency. Recognizing as we do, the conditions in American politics that have contributed to his popularity, we nonetheless are obligated to state our core objections clearly" After listing various positions of Mr Trump that they find unacceptable, they conclude: "Mr. Trump's own statements lead us to conclude that as president, he would use the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe, and which would diminish our standing in the world. Furthermore, his expansive view of how presidential power should be wielded against his detractors poses a distinct threat to civil liberty in the United States. Therefore, as committed and loyal Republicans, we are unable to support a Party ticket with Mr. Trump at its head."
- Republican Party figures
- Max Boot, former foreign policy advisor to Sen. Marco Rubio
- Mindy Finn, political consultant, strategist, and activist
- Robert Kagan, former foreign policy advisor and speechwriter
- Kevin Madden, former senior advisor and spokesman to 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney
- Ken Mehlman, former Republican National Committee Chairman
- Patrick Ruffini, political strategist
- Mark Salter, former aide to Sen. John McCain
- Gabriel Schoenfeld, former Senior Advisor to 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney
- Ben Stein, former speechwriter to President Richard Nixon and President Gerald Ford
- Stuart Stevens, political consultant and strategist
- Journalists and commentators
- Glenn Beck, conservative radio host
- Guy Benson, conservative journalist
- Michael Berry, conservative radio host
- David Brooks, conservative columnist
- L. Brent Bozell III, conservative activist and writer
- Mona Charen, conservative columnist and author
- Erick Erickson, conservative blogger
- Michael Graham, conservative radio host
- Jonah Goldberg, conservative columnist and author
- David Harsanyi, conservative columnist
- Stephen F. Hayes, conservative columnist
- Quin Hillyer, conservative columnist
- Mark Levin, conservative radio host
- Matt K. Lewis, conservative columnist and commentator
- Katie Pavlich, conservative journalist
- Jennifer Rubin, conservative journalist
- Ben Shapiro, conservative columnist and commentator
- Andrew Sullivan, conservative author, blogger, and editor
- George Will, conservative columnist
Potential general election opposition
Trump was widely described as the presumptive Republican nominee after the May 3 Indiana primary, notwithstanding the continued opposition of groups such as Our Principles PAC. Many GOP leaders endorsed Trump after he became the presumptive nominee, but other anti-Trump Republicans looked for ways to defeat Trump in the general election. Stop Trump members such as Eric Erickson, William Kristol, Mike Murphy, Stuart Stevens, and Rick Wilson pursued the possibility of an independent candidacy by a non-Trump Republican. Potential candidates considered by these anti-Trump Republicans include Senator Ben Sasse, Governor John Kasich, Senator Tom Coburn, Congressman Justin Amash, Senator Rand Paul, retired Marine Corps General James Mattis, retired Army General Stanley McChrystal, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, businessman Mark Cuban, and 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney. However, many of these candidates rejected the possibility of an independent run, pointing to difficulties such as ballot access and the potential to help the Democratic candidate win the presidency. One potential strategy would involve an independent candidate gaining enough electoral votes to deny a majority to either of the major party candidates, sending the three presidential candidates with the most electoral votes to the U.S. House of Representatives under procedures established by the Twelfth Amendment. Other anti-Trump Republicans, such as RedState editor Ben Howe, have stated that they will vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election, assuming that she wins the Democratic nomination.
On May 3, 2016, one of the biggest anti-Trump groups, the Never Trump PAC, circulated a petition to collect the signatures of conservatives opposed to voting for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. As of May 8, 2016, over 37,000 people had signed the petition.
Reactions to the Stop Trump movement have been mixed, with other prominent Republicans making statements in support of preventing Trump from receiving the Republican nomination.
Following his withdrawal as a candidate for President, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio expressed hope that Trump's nomination could be stopped, adding that his nomination "would fracture the party and be damaging to the conservative movement."
Sam Clovis, a national co-chairman for Trump's campaign, said that he would leave the Republican Party if it "comes into that convention and jimmies with the rules and takes away the will of the people".
Ned Ryun, founder of conservative group American Majority, has expressed concern about a contested convention, should Trump have the most delegates, but fail to reach the 1,237 necessary to be assured the nomination. Ryun speculated that a contested convention would result in Trump running as a third-party candidate, making it unlikely that Republicans would win the presidency in the November general election, adding that it would "blow up the party, at least in the short term".
New Jersey governor Chris Christie had expressed his opinion that the efforts to stop Trump will ultimately fail. Relatively shortly after his endorsement of Trump, he criticized the people who condemned his endorsement, including the Stop Trump movement, stating that his critics had yet to support any of the remaining GOP candidates. He said, "I think if you're a public figure, you have the obligation to speak out, and be 'for' something, not just 'against' something. ... When those folks in the 'Stop Trump' movement actually decide to be for something, then people can make an evaluation ... if they want to be for one of the remaining candidates, do what I did: Be for one of the remaining candidates."
Trump has said that if he were to be deprived of the nomination because of falling just short of the 1,237 delegates required, that there could be "problems like you’ve never seen before. I think bad things would happen" and "I think you’d have riots". Trump has made prior comments suggesting that he might run as an independent candidate if he were not to get the Republican nomination.
Roger Stone, a political consultant who served as an advisor for Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, and who remains a "Trump confidante", put together a group called "Stop the Steal", and threatened "Days of Rage" if Republican party leaders try to deny the nomination to Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Mr. Stone also threatened to disclose to the public the hotel room numbers of delegates who oppose Trump.
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