Trump’s growing reelection threat: Republican skeptics


WASHINGTON – In 2016, Matt Borges publicly condemned and quarreled with Donald Trump when he was head of the Ohio Republican Party, but in the end, voted for him anyway. That will not happen in 2020.

Borges, who says he is confident that there is a growing number of Republicans like him, who is unwilling to “shut up” and vote for Trump a second time, is part of a growing movement of conservatives openly working to elect the alleged Democratic candidate. Joe Biden

“Nothing was going to make me vote for Hillary Clinton. I grew up in this business learning to fight everything the Clintons were for. I knew her and, in my opinion, knew what a Clinton presidency would look like,” said Borges, who helped form a super anti-Trump PAC. “A lot of people are like me. They understand that Joe Biden is not the same type of candidate.”

While the president remains focused on external enemies, threat from within could be a deciding factor this fall, with well-funded campaigns led by seasoned political operatives aimed at reducing support from the Republican Party base in an election that could end up being determined on the margins

As lifelong conservatives, these members of the Republican resistance say they are in a unique position to reach like-minded voters who are uncomfortable with Trump’s rhetoric and actions but who hesitate to endorse a Democrat.

“What we wanted to create is a movement among grassroots Republicans to give them a sense of community and encouragement to get away from this president,” said Tim Miller, a former spokesman for the Republican National Committee. He is now an advisor to Republican voters against Trump, a super PAC who, he says, “will create a permitting structure for them to say for the first time, perhaps alone, that they will not vote for a Republican.”

Trump retains broad support among Republicans in the polls: 90 percent of those who identified themselves as Republicans said they would vote for Trump, and 71 percent viewed him very favorably, according to a New York Times / University of Siena poll. published last week.

But Republicans who advocate for Biden said cracks are forming that they think they can take advantage of. Trump outscored Biden by 20 points among independent voters, according to the NYT / Siena poll, and only 61 percent of self-identified Republicans said they saw the country on the right track. The president’s support among the groups that were key to his victory in 2016 (older people, whites, and men with no college education) has also dwindled in multiple polls in the past two months.

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The Lincoln Project, whose co-founders include Republican attorney George Conway, the husband of Trump’s chief adviser, Kellyanne Conway, and veterans of multiple Republican presidential campaigns, has spent $ 2 million on ads that attack Trump and promote Biden in states. from the battlefield, as well as the nation’s capital, and he has earned far more than he has invested through Trump’s irritated public responses.

Republican voters against Trump hope to have a $ 10 million budget to target voters online, with a focus on college-educated Republicans in changing states and working-class Republican women, said Miller, who is working with conservative commentator Bill. Crystal on the project. The group has promoted hundreds of online videos of people saying they regret voting for Trump in 2016 and will not do the same in 2020, as a shirtless North Carolina man smoking a cigarette he professes would vote for a can of Take before voting again for Trump.

The group Borges helped start, Right Side PAC, is testing various messages and building data models to identify persuasive Republican voters. Instead of running television ads targeting a large audience, he plans to target specific voters by mail, phone, and online.

More groups are expected to emerge after the convention, said a Republican strategist who backed Trump in 2016 and now opposes him. The operation said it received calls from at least a half-dozen Republican consultants considering various efforts against Trump.

While no other president in recent history has faced such organized public opposition from his own party, it is not a new phenomenon for Trump, who has been struggling with the so-called Never Trump movement among Republicans since he launched his campaign. Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh dismissed the groups’ efforts and said that “any effort by disgruntled former Republicans is doomed to failure.”

“President Trump has the support of a record number of Republicans and leads a united party,” said Murtaugh.

But in addition to the super PACs, a growing number of prominent Republicans are speaking on their own, several of whom held senior positions in his administration, such as former national security adviser John Bolton, a former Fox News contributor who has been lobbying. Nearby – daily attacks on Trump this month while promoting his book.

Anthony Scaramucci, a former Trump supporter who was briefly his White House communications director, has been working with Right Side PAC, reaching out to donors and trying to recruit other prominent Republicans to speak, Borges said. Former Trump chief of staff John Kelly and former defense secretary James Mattis have questioned Trump’s character over the past month.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said this month that she was “fighting” to support Trump. Other Republicans have been trying to sound the alarm with Trump over his weakening prospects, such as Whip John Thune of the majority of the South Dakota Senate, who said Trump should adjust his tone and warned that support for the president among independents. it is softening.

Trump has been quick to strike back. He promised to campaign against Murkowski, and called Republican Party critics “human scum” last year after several spoke about his decision to withdraw US troops from Syria and his attempts to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate the son. from Biden, Hunter.

Republican anti-Trump groups hope to raise only a fraction of the money as pro-Trump super PACs or Biden-aligned PACs, but in an election that could drop to a few thousand votes in a single state, even garnering Trump voters since 2016 sitting on the sidelines could be a victory.

“If it was for Trump the last time and he writes for Ronald Reagan this time, that’s one more for Joe Biden,” said Miller.

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