CNN Trump supporter: If the RNC strips him of the nomination, he should run third-party

Via the Right Scoop, I don’t know how this would work in practice given sore-loser laws, ballot deadlines for independents, and the huge expense of mounting a national campaign without institutional help from the GOP, but I don’t disagree with her in principle. If Trump somehow secured 1,237 delegates and the RNC connived to hand the nomination to someone else anyway via a rule change (which won’t happen, but whatever), why shouldn’t Trump press on as an independent? He has a national constituency; he’d easily pull the same numbers Perot pulled in 1992 in a three-way race and could do much better. Media coverage would be predictably nuts so he’d face far fewer barriers to muscling in on the conversation between the Democratic and Republican nominees than any previous third-party candidate has. He’d have no path to 270 electoral votes and zero chance of being chosen by the House of Representatives if no candidate won a majority of EVs, but a lot of politicos will tell you that he has no path to 270 even as the Republican nominee. If there’s considerable demand for Trump on the ballot and he’s willing to meet it, why should he let dubious RNC shenanigans stop him?

What’s odd about this clip, though, is that it’s essentially the opposite of what Trump fans should be arguing strategically right now. The risk that Trump will be thrown out of the primary by the RNC is minuscule compared to the risk that some sizable number of conservatives will cripple him in the general election either by voting third-party, staying home, or reluctantly supporting Clinton. The party line from Trumpers right now, contra McEnany here, should be that independent candidacies are pointless vanity projects that do nothing except empower a poisonous liberal agenda by splitting the right. The country can. not. survive a Clinton presidency, full stop. Instead McEnany actually says she’d be willing to see Hillary elected president if the RNC pulled a fast one and forced Trump into a third-party run. Er, which is it, then: Is a Hillary presidency a sign of the apocalypse, something to be avoided no matter how steep the cost even if it means Donald Trump standing down after he’s been robbed by the RNC? Or is a Hillary presidency something that’d be kinda bad, but not so bad that the thought of it should stop Trump from taking revenge on the RNC by splitting the right-wing vote in a general election? If it’s the latter, why shouldn’t #NeverTrumpers mount their own third-party bid? And does McEnany understand that #NeverTrumpers would be very happy at this point to have Trump go third-party, even though it would mean a certain Clinton victory in the fall? The #NeverTrump people are already resigned to losing; all they want to do is keep Trump from taking over the nuclear arsenal. If they can achieve that goal and reclaim the GOP for conservatives, even at the price of Hillary winning, they’ll take that deal. Better to lose with Cruz and preserve the Republican Party as an essentially Reaganesque entity than lose with Trump after it’s been taken over by nationalists.

Once again, it’s Newt Gingrich who’s taken the smartest line among Trump fans: Hillary is the worst possible outcome, he insists, therefore Republicans should support whoever the nominee is — and we’re all pretty sure at this point who the nominee is. Why Gingrich is spending most of his time pushing that, though, instead of advocating for Cruz as the true heir to the 1994 revolution and the sole remaining conservative in the race, I leave for you to decide. Exit question: Can cable news networks arrange trades like sports teams can? I have a morbid curiosity about what would be like if CNN’s Trump-superfan contributors — McEnany, Scottie Nell Hughes, Jeffrey Lord — suddenly started appearing on shows run by Fox’s Trump-superfan hosts, Hannity first and foremost among them. It’d be the classiest propaganda you’ve ever seen, that I can tell you.

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David Strom 6:01 PM on February 01, 2023