GOP Smart Set: Let’s Start ‘Smart Set Party,’ Back Third-Party Candidate

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) announces his support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) during a campaign rally at the Madison City Schools Stadium on February 28, 2016.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Republican Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse says that he expects to “look for” a third-party candidate to challenge Donald Trump in the general election if Trump becomes the Republican nominee.

Sasse said in a lengthy Facebook post that he is a “movement conservative” but that he will not support either Trump or Hillary Clinton because “Trump’s relentless focus is on dividing Americans.”

“I sincerely hope we select one of the other GOP candidates, but if Donald Trump ends up as the GOP nominee, conservatives will need to find a third option,” Sasse wrote.

“Given what we know about him today, here’s where I’m at: If Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee, my expectation is that I will look for some third candidate – a conservative option, a Constitutionalist,” Sasse continued.

“I do not claim to speak for a movement but I suspect I am far from alone. After listening to Nebraskans in recent weeks, and talking to a great many people who take oaths seriously, I think many are in the same place. I believe a sizable share of Christians – who regard threats against religious liberty as arguably the greatest crisis of our time – are unwilling to support any candidate who does not make a full-throated defense of the First Amendment a first commitment of their candidacy,” Sasse added.

If junior senator Sasse, elected in 2014, seeks to divide the vote on the Right in the United States by drafting a third-party challenger, his cause will be supported by others in the GOP Smart Set, including Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin.

Both Sasse and Rubin cited Trump’s unwillingness during a CNN interview to weigh in on the fact that marginalized former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke endorsed him. However, the GOP Smart Set is ignoring the fact that Trump already said “I disavow” Duke’s endorsement when he first heard about it, according to The Hill.

Trump should be on the lookout for signs that this might actually happen. Such a third party would only need one or a few billionaire donors to pitch in to one Super PAC. This party would also have the advantage in any situation where the vote on the Right gets split. If no candidate in the general election gets to 270 electoral votes, then the election gets decided in the House of Representatives.

Meaning: Paul Ryan would pick a winner.

The party would need an evangelical candidate with a neoconservative stance on Russia and the Middle East and a willingness to play ball with the Establishment’s globalist immigration agenda. Many options come to mind, namely Marco Rubio. But if the Establishment Party didn’t want to go with someone who already lost the GOP primary to Trump – someone who has always been seen as a lightweight in Washington by his supporters anyway – then it would have to sideline Rubio and replace him with, say, junior Arkansas senator Tom Cotton, who was once the subject of 2016 speculation (and fawning National Review coverage calling him a “Republican’s dream.”)

Every Republican candidate in 2016 on the first Fox News debate stage last August agreed not to run third party if they didn’t get the Republican nomination – except Trump, who eventually signed the “pledge.” But Trump made clear in South Carolina that his pledge is conditional on fair treatment from the Republican Party.

Maybe some other Republicans could find a way to take the pledge conditionally as well.

Could the Republican Establishment and staunchly pro-life conservatives really abandon the party of Lincoln? From the looks of it, they don’t care too much about holding on to the brand that carried William McKinley, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan, and then crashed and burned during the presidency of George W. Bush and the speakership of John Boehner.


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