President Donald Trump’s polarizing presence hasn’t just divided America, it has divided Republicans. Former high-level Republican strategists and campaign players have done something many expected would never happen: they’ve turned their back on the Republican presidential candidate.
Thanks to the psychologically aware way that the two-party system works, most die-hard party supporters only ever voice their concerns about their party’s choices during the primary season.
Once someone has been nominated (anointed, some might say) the party falls in line behind him, because he’s made a commitment to a “party platform.” In other words, no matter how much a Democrat makes his yellow-dog supporters feel he’s pandering to the middle, they can be sure that once he’s got the nomination, he’ll fall in line on entitlements, healthcare, etc.
For Republicans, a presidential nomination means that they’ll try to lower taxes, support the military, stand up for the second amendment and either severely restrict or abolish abortion altogether. And While Trump has produced his own specific PR challenges, he has fallen into line just fine on the key issues.
That, however, is still not good enough for the seemingly bitter and vengeful Republicans behind The Lincoln Project, a group of admittedly brilliant strategists who are working to turn Trump’s conservative base away from him.
Steve Schmidt, one of the group’s founders and former Republican strategist who worked in the George W. Bush White House and ran John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Claims, however, that they are doing this because they “are in a war for the soul of this country.”
When asked how the longtime Republicans decided to go “rogue” Schmidt replied that, “We all had a conviction that there are millions of Republicans who look at this debacle and reject it. And what we thought we could do is talk to those voters in the language and the iconography that they understand, connect with them, and persuade them, many of them, to vote for the Democratic nominee for the first time in their lives.”
The super PAC was launched in December, with seven co-founders at its star, as was outlined by CBS News:
“Rick Wilson, media consultant and ad maker for Republicans like Rudy Guiliani and Marco Rubio. Veteran Republican strategist John Weaver, who also worked with McCain and John Kasich. George Conway, conservative lawyer, and husband of Kellyanne Conway — herself recently diagnosed with COVID-19 — and Reed Galen, who worked on both George W. Bush’s campaigns. Together, more than 200 years of Republican party activism.”
The group’s diatribe against Trump was done under the heading unaffiliated with any party or candidate.
“We do not represent any candidate,” Galen told CBS. “We don’t represent any campaign. We don’t represent any political party. So it allows us a great deal of freedom. You know, we sail the seas and when the opportunity presents itself, you know, we unfurl the Jolly Roger and go to town.
Most of TLP’s work has been done through strategic attack ads and a full-court press against Trump on social media, of which they have a substantial combined Republican-leaning following.
For Weaver, however, the guilt seems to have been assuaged by the argument that the party has “betrayed” him CBS reported.
“I mean, look Lesley. We’ve gone from caring about the character, rule of law, defending the constitution, a cogent national security policy, free trade, where are all those issues” Weaver said. “Imagine if you had traveled the country for 30 years, fighting for Republican principles, and you learn it was all a lie. No one cares about all the issues that we fought for.”
As for their television presence, Galen said that they have a “standing buy on Fox News in Washington, D.C. with Fox and Friends, Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, every night.” in pursuit of their goal of putting a dent in Trump’s support.
Reed Galen: We have a standing buy on Fox News in Washington, D.C. with Fox and Friends, Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, every night.
Wilson said, “People do hate negative ads, but negative ads work.”