Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Reince Priebus quickly put down efforts by Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol to launch an independent bid for president from National Review columnist David French on Thursday morning.
Appearing on Hugh Hewitt’s radio program, the GOP’s chief official said that those “involved” with pushing an independent bid from French are “embarrassing themselves” with a “silly” endeavor that is basically a “suicide mission.” While they did not name Kristol, or 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney—who tweeted tacit support for French the night of reports that Kristol’s candidate is French—it’s clear that Priebus was talking about them.
“I don’t really know him,” Priebus said of French when Hewitt asked about it. He added:
I think it’s a little bit of a…Look, I don’t want to say anything disparaging against the guy because I don’t know him, and I’m sure he’s a good person, but I think it’s also just a sort of suicide mission and a huge distraction. I don’t see it going anywhere. I think in order to be a viable third party candidate I think you have to have national name ID and a ton of cash in order to get even a blip on the radar. So I don’t really even think about it, Hugh. I think it’s sort of silly, to tell you the truth. I have to say—I think the people involved with it are embarrassing themselves.
At the beginning of the interview, when talking about how the GOP is unifying party-wide behind Donald Trump as the presumptive GOP nominee ahead of the upcoming convention in Cleveland, Priebus took a slight shot at Romney, as well—a warning of what may come if Romney continues down this road of working against the Republican Party. Specifically, Priebus said, it’s “even easier” for the RNC to unite behind Trump than it was to unite behind Romney in 2012.
“I would say, first of all, extremely close,” Priebus replied when Hewitt asked how close the RNC and Trump campaign have become in recent weeks. He went on to say:
You know, I thought that the coming together of Romney and the RNC four years ago was pretty good—but I have to say, and it’s not just to say it here to make some kind of nice situation, but I think it’s even easier and better now than it was four years ago. In other words, I don’t think it could be going any smoother. Now, you know, we have a lot more resources here than we used to have too, though. Four years ago, we had about four full-time people in Ohio, and today, we’re pushing 53. I mean, it’s just a different RNC. We’ve put over $100 million in data, and we have hundreds of thousands of people across the country. We didn’t have that four years ago. We do now. And I think the Trump campaign really appreciates that, and they’re working with us, and we’re raising money together.
Priebus noted that the Trump Leadership Victory team includes several high-profile backers of former rivals and senior party insiders deeply involved in the infrastructure of the Republican Party.
“We’ve got people on that leadership team that it’s remarkable that they’re there,” Priebus said. “We’ve got Lew Eisenberg, a guy named Ron Weiser, who was my finance chairman four years ago. Ray Washburn was our finance chairman two years ago—and even people like Woody Johnson, who was Jeb Bush’s finance chairman, is now helping out Trump Victory.” Priebus concluded, “That’s important. People want to see that, I’m sure, the coalescing to get the job done.”