For a growing number of Republicans, it's #NeverTrump time – now

By Diana Pearl
Updated March 18, 2016 04:55 PM
Credit: Splash News

It took a few months and several primaries and caucuses, but it’s safe to say that some in the Republican party are now officially anxious about the prospect of Donald Trump as their standard-bearer and presidential nominee.

And in a last-ditch effort to try to stop him from claiming their party’s nomination – let alone the White House – the Republican establishment is pulling out all the stops.

1. There might be a contested convention.
As Donald Trump’s delegate count and primary wins continue to grow in number, there’s been more and more discussion of a contested convention, which could put Trump’s chances at cinching the nomination in jeopardy – and may even give the GOP the opportunity to nominate an outsider.

2. They’re bringing out the bigwigs.
Plenty of prominent figures in the Republican party have spoken out against Trump or his statements in the past few weeks, including former 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, Nebraska Representative Ben Sasse, conservative radio and television personality Glenn Beck, Republican operative Karl Rove, among many other former elected officials,

But it’s 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney who has perhaps been the loudest voice in the anti-Trump movement. He’s tweeted his suspicions of Trump (#WhatIsHeHiding), visited Jimmy Kimmel Live to discuss his disdain for Trump and most famously, gave a speech where he called Trump a “phony” and a “fraud.” Romney even told Chuck Todd I m going to be voting, but I ll vote for someone on the ballot that I think is a real conservative and who will make us proud and I may write in a name if I can t find such a person.

3. They’re endorsing Ted Cruz – even if they don’t like him.
Ted Cruz may not be Mitt Romney, but he’s still an improvement over Trump in the eyes of the Republican establishment. As it increasingly seems that Cruz is the party’s best bet when it comes to denying Trump the nomination, more and more Republicans are speaking out to support Cruz – even if they don’t like him very much, either.

Former competitor Carly Fiorina endorsed Ted Cruz, but the most notable convert is Graham, who previously joked that Cruz was so unlikeable that “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.”

Now, he’s helping his Senate colleague fund-raise next week. “I have doubts about Mr. Trump, 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,” he said of his change of heart. “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.”

Romney also hopped on the Cruz bandwagon this week, posting on Facebook that he’ll be voting for Cruz in the upcoming Utah caucuses. He said that while he prefers John Kasich, he believes that a vote for Kasich is really just a vote that will increase the likelihood of a Trump victory.

“The only path that remains to nominate a Republican rather than Mr. Trump is to have an open convention,” he wrote. “At this stage, the only way we can reach an open convention is for Senator Cruz to be successful in as many of the remaining nominating elections as possible.”

They’ve started a social media campaign – #NeverTrump
Many liberals accuse the GOP of being old-fashioned – but don’t claim they’re not hip with social media! The hashtag #NeverTrump has become a full-on movement, making its way around the Internet over the past few weeks, with conservatives likes former congressman Bob Inglis, Bush State Department alum Eliot Cohen, radio host Erick Erickson and New York Times conservative commentator David Brooks all hopping aboard the #NeverTrump train.

They’re holding secret meetings
The Republican party’s disdain for Trump isn’t just an informal topic of cocktail-party chatter. A group of conservative leaders and operatives met this week, according to the Washington Post, to discuss how they could take down Trump, meaning this #NeverTrump thing is a lot more than just a trending topic.

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There’s discussion of throwing in a third party candidate.
Even if Donald Trump wins the nomination, Republicans may not give up hope. There’s been discussion that they’ll put forward a third party candidate, a “movement conservative”, according to The Washington Post. The hope is that he or she would will take votes away from both Trump and the Democratic nominee, leaving all three candidates without the necessary number of electoral college votes (270) needed to win the Presidency.

In that case, the selection of the president would be taken out of the hands of the American people and into the hands of Congress – as it says right in the 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

It reads: “The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President.”

Congress could elect any candidate that won at least one state in the general election – and if they put forth a fan favorite like Mitt Romney, it’s a possibility.