Sunday 26 January 2020

GOP critics form 'super group' to 'defeat president at the ballot box'

US President Donald Trump. Picture: AFP/Getty
US President Donald Trump. Picture: AFP/Getty

Steve Peoples

A small group of US President Donald Trump's fiercest conservative critics, including the husband of the president's own chief adviser, is launching a super political action committee (PAC) designed to fight Mr Trump's re-election and punish congressional Republicans deemed his "enablers."

The new organisation, known as the Lincoln Project, represents a formal step forward for the so-called Never Trump movement, which has been limited largely to social media commentary and cable news attacks through the first three years of Mr Trump's presidency.

Organisers report fundraising commitments exceeding $1m to begin, although they hope to raise and spend much more to fund a months-long advertising campaign in a handful of 2020 battleground states to persuade disaffected Republican voters to break from Mr Trump's GOP.

The mission, as outlined in a website that launched yesterday coinciding with a 'New York Times' opinion piece, is simple: "Defeat President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box."

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The group is led by a seven-person advisory council that features some of the GOP's most vocal Trump critics. Most, but not all, have already left the Republican Party.

The principals include former John McCain adviser Steve Schmidt, former Ohio governor John Kasich adviser John Weaver, former New Hampshire GOP chair Jennifer Horn, veteran Republican operative Rick Wilson and George Conway, a conservative attorney and husband of Mr Trump's chief counsellor Kellyanne Conway.

The inception of the Lincoln Project is significant, but it represents a minority of Mr Trump's Republican Party.

It is very much a work in progress, despite yesterday's official launch. The group begins as a super PAC, which means it can raise and spend unlimited sums of money and must disclose its donors.

"You're seeing a shift from talk into action," said Reed Galen, a veteran Republican operative who worked for McCain but left the GOP after Trump's nomination in 2016, describing the launch as "a big turning point for the political season and for the president's re-election".

Specifically, the group plans to focus on blocking Mr Trump's re-election and defeating Trump-allied Senate candidates in a handful of key 2020 battlegrounds.

Irish Independent

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