Third candidate’s a charm?
With many Republicans unwilling to give their votes to presumptive nominee Donald Trump or Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, some are now pinning their hopes on a potential third-party candidate.
In a Facebook manifesto published Thursday morning, rising-star Republican and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse argued that neither political party is working and called for a one-term, “problem-solver” candidate for this “messy moment.”
“Why shouldn’t America draft an honest leader who will focus on 70% solutions for the next four years? You know … an adult?” he asked before closing his nearly 1,500-word open letter with the hash tags #WeCanDoBetter and #GiveUsMoreChoices.
The Huffington Post writes that while a third-party candidate may not be able to win the presidency, putting a “traditional conservative on the ballot” would offer Republicans an out from doing the unthinkable – voting for Clinton. It “would ‘virtually assure’ Clinton of victory – giving business-minded conservatives who prefer Clinton [to Trump] a way to support her without having to support her directly.”
Leading Republicans say they’re not opposed to the idea of a third-party candidate.
Former John Boehner aide Sam Geduldig said an “independent conservative running could actually help the House and Senate.”
Tim Miller, a former Jeb Bush campaign official and now a leader of the #NeverTrump movement, told PEOPLE that his work was focused on stopping Trump’s nomination but he’s now “happy to support” the effort to draft a third-party alternative – “to the extent that there is a conservative third-party candidate that would give Republicans who can’t stomach voting for Trump a person to vote for.” He added that he doesn’t yet know “what is realistic” on that front.
Doug Heye, a former top aide to Eric Cantor, echoed Miller’s concerns, pointing out, “The challenge is that there is a high barrier to entry to making that a reality.”
Even Sasse admitted in his manifesto, “It might not happen fully in 2016 but when people’s needs aren’t being met, they ultimately find other solutions.”
And it seems there are many Republicans out there whose needs are not being met.
George H.W. Bush, for the first time since his own presidency, is staying mum on the presidential race. Neither he nor his son former President George W. Bush have plans to endorse Trump, their respective spokesmen told PEOPLE.
Nevada Sen. Dean Heller told the Associated Press he “vehemently” opposes Trump, though he vowed he will not vote for Clinton.
And Sen. John McCain argued that stopping Trump is also about keeping down-ticket Republicans like himself alive.
“If Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket, here in Arizona, with over 30 percent of the vote being the Hispanic vote, no doubt that this may be the race of my life,” McCain said at a fundraiser in Arizona last month, according to a recording of the event obtained by Politico. “If you listen or watch Hispanic media in the state and in the country, you will see that it is all anti-Trump. The Hispanic community is roused and angry in a way that I’ve never seen in 30 years.”
While #NeverTrump-ers are still holding out hope that they won’t be forced to choose between two such unpalatable options, there’s only one course on the menu at the Republican National Committee’s headquarters in Washington, where officials are implementing a zero-tolerance policy on Trump detractors. Some staffers were told Wednesday, the morning after chairman Reince Priebus pronounced Trump the de-facto nominee, that they must either get behind Trump or clean out their desks by the end of this week, The New York Times reported.
In other words – Trump: It’s what’s for dinner.