INGRID JACQUES

Jacques: What’s next for #NeverTrump?

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

Never Trump. Stop Trump. Dump Trump. There’s no shortage of factions within the GOP calling for the end of Donald Trump’s presidential bid. But if Trump is the nominee, then what?

With the Republican National Convention in Cleveland less than two weeks away, it is seeming less likely by the day that the presumptive GOP presidential nominee is going anywhere.

That doesn’t mean party leaders should give up trying to oust the billionaire and former reality TV star.

Some within the GOP are trying to stage a coup of sorts at the convention that would free delegates bound to Trump from having to cast their first vote for him. There are fundraisers going on this month, ahead of the convention, to bring in money to help with the rule-change effort.

The party does have every right to change its rules, although some fear that would mean alienating Trump supporters.

What does the GOP have to lose?

As Katie Packer, a political strategist and Michigan native who has been a leading voice in the NeverTrump movement, said on Twitter last week, “Attention delegates: with Trump there is ZERO chance of beating Hillary. With any other candidate there's a shot. Go for it.”

Good point.

Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be hard to beat. Two scathing reports in recent weeks have highlighted her dishonesty and questioned her competence—in regard to her handling of Benghazi and her use of a private email server when she was secretary of state. FBI Director James Comey chastised her lack of judgment and called her handling of classified information “extremely careless.”

If she were matched against almost anyone else, such a revelation would probably sink Clinton. But since Trump is her opponent, she still leads him in most polls.

For many of the anti-Trump folks, they are left in an difficult position. They don’t want Clinton or Trump. And Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is a long shot.

Before Michigan’s primary in March, I talked to Liz Mair, who started the Make America Awesome PAC, dedicated to stopping Trump. Mair is a Virginia-based Republican political consultant and communications expert, and through her PAC, she spread the word about Trump’s troubling background, comments and policy positions.

After the Indiana primary, when all other GOP presidential candidates bowed out, Mair says she put her PAC on hold.

But her views on Trump are as strong as ever. She says most of the NeverTrump crowd won’t support him, either. Mair says she’s polled about 2,000 anti-Trump enthusiasts, and only three said they’d actually vote for him.

In a recent radio interview, RNC chairman Reince Priebus scolded anti-Trump Republicans, saying “we’re going to win with or without them.” He noted the importance of winning the White House, especially when it comes to future Supreme Court appointments.

For Mair and others on the NeverTrump bandwagon, that’s not a good enough reason to support Trump if he’s the nominee. She’s not voting for Trump or Clinton. She’d rather write in a candidate.

“You shouldn’t be compelled to vote for someone you strongly disagree with,” she says. “I might as well vote my conscience. I’m not voting for a crook.”

ijacques@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques