Friendly reminder from RNC chair: A third-party run would be “suicide”

posted at 8:01 pm on May 16, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

Or perhaps justifiable political-cide? That’s certainly how the advocates of an independent conservative presidential bid see the stakes, but RNC chair Reince Priebus argued yesterday on Fox News Sunday that it would require the sacrifice not just of the White House, but also “100 years” of Supreme Court decisions as well. Rather than wage a quixotic fight from the outside, Priebus argues, why not fight from the inside — like Paul Ryan is doing?

“What it means is that you’re throwing down not just eight years of the White House, but potentially 100 years on the Supreme Court and wrecking this country for many generations,” Priebus told “Fox News Sunday”. “And so, I think that’s the legacy these folks will leave behind.” …

When asked by “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace what he would say to Romney and Kristol, Priebus responded, “I think they should consider the ramifications of what’s going to happen on the Supreme Court, get assurances from Donald Trump that they’re satisfied with that would show that he’s committed to those conservative justices … and I think that’s the better way to go as opposed to this third party route.”

Priebus doesn’t mention another aspect that has to have him worried as well. Any attempt to run an indie-conservative alternative will require massive staffing and resources just to get on ballots and organize to any extent at all. Those resources would likely come from the GOP or from their potential volunteer base. That would create problems for the RNC not just at the presidential level but all the way down the ballot, too. It’s a great recipe for losing Congress as well as the White House.

Unfortunately for Priebus and Donald Trump, even the latter’s allies aren’t exactly a beacon of encouragement:

“I think he’s going to need to learn. He’s going to need to understand really completely … how complex this world is,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., told ABC’s “This Week.”

In particular, Sessions said Trump has much to learn about how to talk about matters of war, saying “It’s just a very, very complex world and you have to be careful when you commit a military force.”

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., a onetime Trump critic who nonetheless has vowed to back him in November, called him “a work in progress,” more so than most candidates. “Usually you know a lot more about a candidate because they’ve run for other things. They’ve cast votes. They’ve done things. And he does have a shoot-from-the-hip style.”

Perhaps we can chalk these up to the Things It Would Have Been Great to Know in January category, but … we did know them. And so did Sessions, who nonetheless became one of Trump’s main DC cheerleaders. Wouldn’t it have been better for Sessions to have backed someone who already understood the complexities of the world and had more sense about discussing military matters? Didn’t Republicans make those very points in, oh, 2007-8?

With friends like these, no wonder Trump’s opponents want to run a third-party candidate. That still doesn’t make success a remote possibility, nor negate the damage it will do. But it does make one wonder just how bad the damage will be on either path now.


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