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On Thursday, a group of conservatives aimed at keeping Donald Trump from becoming the Republican nominee for president, met in Washington D.C. to test the winds on a plan or plans to stop the New York billionaire’s run for the White House.
Organized by conservative activists Bill Wichterman and Bob Fischer along with right-wing radio host Erick Erickson, and held at the Army and Navy Club in Washington, “Conservatives Against Trump” had some two dozen participants – most all of whom said they would not talk specifics on the record about what happened.
The only officiall response from the group came from a press release posted by Erickson on his website, the Resurgent.
The Statement read:
“We are a group of grassroots conservative activists from all over the country and from various backgrounds, including supporters of many of the other campaigns. We are committed to ensuring a real conservative candidate is elected. We believe that neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump, a Hillary Clinton donor, is that person.
"We believe that the issue of Donald Trump is greater than an issue of party. It is an issue of morals and character that all Americans, not just those of us in the conservative movement, must confront.
"We call for a unity ticket that unites the Republican Party. If that unity ticket is unable to get 1,237 delegates prior to the convention, we recognize that it took Abraham Lincoln three ballots at the Republican convention in 1860 to become the party’s nominee and if it is good enough for Lincoln, that process should be good enough for all the candidates without threats of riots.
"We encourage all former Republican candidates not currently supporting Trump to unite against him and encourage all candidates to hold their delegates on the first ballot.
"Lastly, we intend to keep our options open as to other avenues to oppose Donald Trump. Our multiple decades of work in the conservative movement for free markets, limited government, national defense, religious liberty, life, and marriage are about ideas, not necessarily parties.”
While most held their tongue about the meeting, some shared some general themes discussed there. Here are a few of the things discussed at the meeting on Thursday, according to some participants.
1. Getting a third party on the ballot. "It's certainly not too late," Rep. Trent Franks, (R-Ariz.) and a Ted Cruz supporter, who attended the session said. "You could get another party on the ballot. A candidate could be picked as late as August. … It would have to be a movement conservative. I was there to listen. I am worried about the kind of damage that Trump could cause to our party. … As a conservative, I can’t trust Donald Trump to do the right thing,” Franks told The Washington Post. “However, I can trust Mrs. Clinton to do the exact wrong thing. Therefore, if it comes down to a one-on-one contest, I would vote for Trump."
2. Working prior to the convention to support Ted Cruz, thus eliminating the need for another candidate or a fight on the convention floor.
3. Probably not working so hard for Ohio Gov. John Kasich would need more than 100 percent of the delegates left to be allotted to get to the 1,237 number needed for the nomination.
Also on Thursday
Trump has said that “riots would result” if his path to the nomination is blocked at a contested Republican convention this summer in Cleveland. Speaker of the House, Rep. Paul Ryan, warned against talk of riots, and said he believes that a contested convention is now more likely to happen. It will be the first since 1976. Ryan, as Speaker, is in charge of running the convention.
What’s happened already
2. Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, (R-Kty.), has a plan that would have lawmakers break with Trump explicitly before the general election.
3. Kasich advisers say the Ohio governor is shooting for a convention battle in which he believes he can win.
4. Tech CEOs and business billionaires traveled to an island off the Georgia coast two weeks ago to take part in the American Enterprise Institute World Forum, a meeting held annually. The main topic of the meeting, though not intended to be so to begin with, was how to stop the Trump candidacy. Those attending the meeting included: Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google co-founder Larry Page, Napster creator and Facebook investor Sean Parker, and Tesla Motors and SpaceX honcho Elon Musk all attended. So did Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), political guru Karl Rove, House Speaker Paul Ryan, GOP Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Tim Scott (S.C.), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Ben Sasse (Neb.), who recently made news by saying he “cannot support Donald Trump.” Rep. Fred Upton (Mich.), Rep. Kevin Brady (Texas) and almost-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.), Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) and Diane Black (Tenn.).
5. Republican Party donors are debating whether or not to continue funding the dump-Trump effort. Some of those donors – New York hedge-fund manager Paul Singer and members of the Chicago Cubs-owning Ricketts family – are expressing doubts over the effectiveness of their spending on anti-Trump advertising.
6. According to reporting from Politico, anti-Trump groups have outlined a state-by-state bid to keep Trump from getting the 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the Republican nomination. That would force a contested convention this summer in Cleveland.