They even have a short list of candidates. Unfortunately, the only available copy of the secret internal report on running a third party candidate has the list blacked out (see above).
According to Scott Bland at Politico:
Conservative donors have engaged a major GOP consulting firm in Florida to research the feasibility of mounting a late, independent run for president amid growing fears that Donald Trump could win the Republican nomination.
“All this research has to happen before March 16, when inevitably Trump is the nominee, so that we have a plan in place," a source familiar with the discussions said. March 16 is the day after the GOP primary in Florida...
The document, stamped “confidential,” was authored by staff at Data Targeting, a Republican firm based in Gainesville, Fla. The memo notes that “it is possible to mount an independent candidacy but [it] will require immediate action on the part of this core of key funding and strategic players.”
This, of course, would guarantee that both the Republican candidate, probably Trump, and the independent candidate, would lose. So, it is a kind of apoptosis.
Here's the thing. Why would they do this? Why would the Republican Party build up a power base linked to a philosophy, then, when the ultimate candidate emerges, who represents that philosophy of hate and fascism comes to fore, bail?
One possibility is that the importance of corporate control of the President is the central guiding force for strategy. After all, we are talking about unspecified "donors." Those donors are not concerned with the political philosophy of the candidate, just that the candidate be controlled.
It is interesting to compare this effect across the two parties. One could say that Clinton is more the corporate candidate and Sanders is not. But, Democrats are not actually (despite pernicious rumors the contrary) destroying sanders or planning to put him down. A lot of Democrats, including many in power, like Sanders. But when an insurgency candidate (which, it seems, is defined as not, or less, bought and paid for) comes along in the Republican party, the Programmed Party Death Button is seriously considered. The parties really are not the same.
I wouldn't expect anything to come to this if it is a real effort to get a particular candidate to win. But if this really is an effort by the Republicans to put themselves down, then the chances of a third party run may be much higher, because it doesn't have to work. It just has to break everything.
Could it just be another "super PAC" con to get donations to fund non-presidential candidates under the pretense of funding an independent presidential candidate?
Here’s the thing. Why would they do this? Why would the Republican Party build up a power base linked to a philosophy, then, when the ultimate candidate emerges, who represents that philosophy of hate and fascism comes to fore, bail? "
Here's the thing, Trump does not represent Republican ideals. As bad as Hillary is, I can not see myself voting for Trump over her - not that I'd vote for her either.
"In recent years, after two humiliations at the hands of Barack Obama, some Republican leaders had begun to understand that the scorched earth approach that had begun with Nixon’s Southern Strategy and culminated in the know-nothing frenzy of the Tea Party was a long-term loser. In a country with rapidly changing demographics and an increasingly liberal populace, a fresh start was needed. Poor Jeb Bush, bless his heart, tried half-heartedly to suggest this by equating immigration with “an act of love”. Then Donald Trump slapped him a few times hard across the face, and that was that. What Trump has unleashed is the monster created by the Republican Party for its own purposes. As always, when the monster gets free, it goes for the nearest prey first – and therein lies a lesson for Democrats."
If Trump is the nominee and loses as badly as anticipated, then the future of the GOP as a functioning national party able to field successful candidates is at risk.
People who do not want that to happen might decide the best, if not good, option is try to destroy Trump's identity and legitimacy as a GOP candidate by nominating someone else. In effect, they'd be seen and heard to 'fess up" to the sins that led the GOP to Trump, declare he was not a true Republican, and that their candidate, their money and their organization were the real GOP.
Sounds flimsy on its face, but Republicans are pretty good at eating their own spin.
joncr: "[....] If Trump is the nominee and loses as badly as anticipated...."
Looking at the bookies and the prediction markets, the orange fascist will receive the Republican Party nomination by about 81% followed by the Cuban at 14%: that is enough to frighten the shit out of any and every sane human being.
At the moment Secretary Clinton leads Trump 59% to 37% for becoming USA president in one predictions market (Sanders: 8%). I consider the 18% difference utterly terrifying, considering what Trump has said, and considering his anti-social behavior.
Looking at the numbers in predictit for people who have placed money on Trump being president, $14,017 has been offered on the "yes" proposition but not yet accepted, with $1,603,502 being traded; about $288,000 on "yes" so far. These are people who may or may not want Trump to be president--- and that reflects the "wisdom of the crowd" which one would hope is more accurate than polling.
The Tea Party is, in my estimation, a reiteration and doubling down on the Nixonian Southern Strategy. Play on the rubes existing biases and bigotry, blame their discomfort on the other side and the 'others' and feed them a steady, but limited, diet of outrage and confirmation to reinforce their bias and keep them emotionally involved enough to guarantee that they will show up at the polls.
It is a system that works until a carnival barker comes along and blows the diet by providing all the red meat they can handle. But it isn't just quantity. The GOP controllers were careful to limit criticism of GOP candidates and party control. Trump is saying those things which the Tea Party core was thinking, but the GOP affiliated controllers were careful to avoid. Things like 9/11 happening on W's watch, failed wars, lies about WMDs.
Worrying for the GOP, there are now occasional mentions of how the GOP isn't helping the Tea Party demographic with the things closer to hand. Like VA benefits, how their children, home from W's wars, are treated for the damages of those wars. But also dealing with banks, insurance and mortgage companies.
It is one thing for a monster you created to break free. It is quite another if the monster critiques its former owner and finds it has more in common with the people it was trained to hate.
The GOP can survive as a rump without the buba vote. But it can't survive if it loses the election, and loses the white middle class and its most militant members as represented by the Tea Party.
Cruz is the only clear choice to defeat Hillary. There are still more people that hate him than like him. Some, like me, will NEVER vote Trump no matter what. Not even for dogcatcher! If
Trump is the nominee, I predict a repeat of the 3,000,000 staying home for Moderate Mitt, thus assuring a Hillary win.
I assume people recall that the Tea Party is a creation of the Koch brothers, with help from Big Tobacco. and for more, read Jane Mayer's Dark Money.
This is really quite well documented, i.e., this was not really an organic inside-GOP thing, and neither Kochs nor Big Tobacco have much muse for the Federal government. so making it not work is almost as good as controlling it...
Trump does not represent Republican ideals.
The Republican establishment are telling themselves this, and maybe they even believe it. But the base voters disagree. Denial, as they say, isn't just a river in Africa.
On most issues, the difference between Trump on the one hand, and Cruz or Rubio on the other, is that Trump isn't hiding behind coded language. It reminds me of the Looney Tunes short in which Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam are running for some political office. During a debate Bugs quotes Teddy Roosevelt's line about speaking softly and carrying a big stick. Yosemite Sam, whom Trump often seems to be channeling, replies: "OH YEAH? Well I speak LOUDLY and I carry a BIGGER stick, and I use it too [hitting Bugs on the head as he says the last]" The Republican candidates' discussion of immigration policy feels particularly like this--Rubio and Cruz are saying essentially the same things Trump is, but the former two are using dog-whistle code speech while Trump is saying it openly. But there are other issues where the Republican debate has this sort of feel.
The Republican party has a "philosophy of hate and fascism"? It's good to know that overblown rhetoric isn't a failing limited to one side.
If the Democrats aren't actively trying to destroy Sanders, perhaps it is because there is a big difference in that Sanders isn't winning. Or perhaps it is because the Democrats' system of super-delegates means the Democratic leadership is confident it can control the outcome of the primaries to get the result it wants regardless of how Sanders does.
Or maybe, just maybe, Trump is a special case, someone so repugnant that the Republican leadership is willing to take steps it normally would not to keep him from being the voice of their party.
One thing is certain, though, it isn't because of any great difference between the parties, since there isn't one. Trump was a declared Democrat a decade or two ago, remember; how would the Democratic party have reacted to his gargantuan, orange-stained hat being thrown into their ring?
Dan: Women's rights. Health care. Abortion. Civil rights. Immigration. Science. Religion in schools. Foreign aid. Foreign policy. Governing style. Yeah, no difference.
John, excellent recommendation. Here's my review of the book: http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2016/01/22/dark-money-by-jane-mayer/
Eric: "The Republican establishment are telling themselves this, and maybe they even believe it. But the base voters disagree. Denial, as they say, isn’t just a river in Africa."
Basically true, to the extent that Trump's current trumpeting is taken as what he represents.
He is making it all up, of course.
I suspect this is being driven by the dark money economy. The Kochs have not dumped a lot of money (a lot for them) into the election so far. There are people who want to get that money and to get it, they need to provide a plausible path that makes their use of the money, not an empty sink-hole (like Jeb was). Jeb spent $150 million and got nothing.
The problem is that the kinds of money that are being talked about are enough for people to kill and be killed over. If Trump gets assassinated, that is who did it.
Without (essentially) buying the media and blocking Trump from getting coverage or ad time, I don't see how a "conservative" can get ahead of him in votes. Maybe the recent shift in MSNBC coverage (Melissa Harris-Perry) is a sign of this starting.
I think there are only two "successful" paths to a non-Trump conservative winning if Trump gets the GOP nomination; assassination of Trump, or giving Trump an "offer he can't refuse" so that he quits. The price of Trump quitting is likely more than a billion. Cheap compared to what the GOP Donor class will lose in higher taxes and forgone government subsidies for the military industrial complex.
Assassinating Trump would be a very high stakes gamble. The GOP base would very likely believe it was a conspiracy. It would be very difficult to keep all of the details quiet. With Obama still president, the NSA, CIA and FBI (and foreign intelligence agencies) can't be relied on to keep quiet about it. That sort of thing happening could really undo a GOP House and Senate.
That kind of interference in elections could compel the kind of voting rights reform that would make the kinds of gerrymandering, voter ID, voter registration barriers that Red states are implementing impossible
This reminds me that in 1994, Oliver North (remember Ollie North?) ran for U.S. Senate in Virginia as a Republican against Chuck Robb as the Democrat and Marshal Coleman as an independent. Coleman had been Attorney General of VIrginia and had run for Govenor (but lost) as a Republican.
It was widely believed that John Warner, Virginia's other (Republican) Senator convinced Coleman to run in order to deny Oliver North the victory. Coleman's 12% showing did allow Chuck Rob to win. At any rate, Warnet campaigned for Colman and against North.
This put John Warner on the outs with the Virginia Republican Party, but he used a quirk in the Virginia law to avoid a convention (in which he would have lost) but instead face a primary, which he won by large numbers of Democrats crossing over (VIrginia allows anyone to vote in a primary; registration is not by party) to thank him for his role in defeating North.
On the one hand Trump has taken positions that appeal to the base (throw out illegal aliens, build a wall, keep Muslims out, use torture, kill the terrorists' families, eliminate trade treaties). In an attempt to curry favor with the base, other candidates have found it in their interest to adopt some of these policies, even though they're not in the interest of the Republican oligarchy. On the other hand Trump has taken positions that threaten the legitimacy of the Republican project (9/11, the basis for the war in Iraq, Planned Parenthood, Social Security, healthcare), and that have been rejected by the other candidates. Trump is not simply the embodiment of Republican values. The way he embodies those values is a threat. And the way he doesn't embody those values is also a threat.
Now that the "Super" Tuesday results are in:
For Democrats, this is a normal primary season. It appears Hillary is almost certain to get the nomination, nudged a bit further to the left by Bernie during the primaries, and likely to run more toward the center during the general. No major surprises here.
For Republicans there are basically three options:
1) Rally around Trump, try to get him a more moderate running-mate, hope for the best, and likely face a crushing defeat in November as everyone to the left of Mussolini votes for Hillary (including a lot of Republicans). This is the most probable scenario, and the one I predict will occur.
2) Stage a "brokered" convention to nominate someone else, and offer Trump something "yuge" to get him to endorse that candidate. This will royally tick off the base, and likely face a crushing defeat in November as the Tea Party crowd react to their "betrayal" by staying home in large numbers. This is a less probable scenario.
3) Let Trump have the Republican nomination, and then Establishment Republicans run an independent candidate who they can claim is a "centrist" between Trump and Hillary. This would cause much damage to the GOP. There's a reasonable chance that a three-way race could end up getting thrown to the House, and however it comes out, the resulting President would be seen by 2/3 of the voters as illegitimate. But this is the least-probable scenario because it could spell the end of the GOP as such.