New Jersey Governor and former Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie has described this election as one where “Every Republican who is not working for Trump is working for Clinton.”
Two longtime Republicans and former George W. Bush administration officials are taking his words to heart and actively gathering support for Hillary.
Their group, called R4C16, is working on gaining support among Republican leaders and officials to vote for Hillary. The end goal is primarily to defeat Trump, rather than support the Hillary campaign. Founded by John Stubbs, a former senior advisor to the U.S. Trade Representative, and Ricardo Reyes, a former USTR deputy assistant for public and media affairs (both under the Bush administration), both of which were “happily retired” from politics. That is, until Trump came along.
“If you’d told me five years ago this is where I’d be today…” Reyes said, as he broke out into a laugh during an interview with TIME. “This” being the DNC convention in Philadelphia, where they’ll gathering support for their organization.
Surprisingly, they’ve received an encouraging response so far. Out of the two hundred or so people they’ve talked to, of which include Republican officials of all levels (governors, members of Congress, senior staff, members, etc), only two told them to “go fly a kite.” “We’ve gotten a lot of support,” said Stubbs.
The challenge isn’t getting Republican officials to support their efforts; it’s getting them to publicly support them. Most Republican officials rely on relationships within the party to politically stay alive; supporting Hillary over the GOP nominee isn’t a great way to keep up those relationships. However, Stubbs reiterated the power of numbers. If enough prominent Republicans join the group, it makes the publicity angle of the organization easier.
On the R4C16 site, they list three main goals. First, defeat Trump. Second, restore Republican leadership. And lastly, save the Senate. By electing Hillary, Stubbs and Reyes claim it would give Republicans a “predictable, stable, [and gliding] path forward [to] recuperate and draft a real statesman in 2020.”
Both men have little faith that Trump wouldn’t rule as an autocrat if elected. They see his brand of crude, xenophobic, and unhinged rhetoric as antithetical to the office of president and Republican values.
“If Trump wins, the Republican Party is dead,” said Stubbs.
Both men believe Trump is such a big threat to the Republican Party, and the nation as a whole, that they criticize those who would vote third party or refuse to vote at all.
“[A] Libertarian protest vote could toss the election to Trump,” Stubbs wrote in The Washington Post.
Regardless of what you think of Republicans voting for Hillary over Trump, you can’t say these guys aren’t principled. They’re hardcore Republicans who’ve done their time in the political system. It’s not easy recognizing that to save your party you have to vote for the opposition, but that’s what they believe needs to be done.
And who knows, these guys might actually have a shot at this with Republicans, specifically young Republicans, a group Trump has failed to win over.
According to a recent Harvard study, even Trump’s youth supporters aren’t that giddy about him. When asked if they were “enthusiastic” about their support for their candidate, 51 percent said ‘yes,’ and 49 percent said ‘no.’ For Clinton, 60 percent said ‘yes,’ and 40 percent said ‘no.’
The interesting section of this study is Trump’s underperformance among young Republicans: 57 percent said they support Trump, while 13 percent support Clinton. Compare that to young Democrats, 83 percent of whom support Clinton, and 5 percent support Trump.
If the R4C16 organization can gain traction, they might stand a good chance at persuading dissatisfied young Republicans to vote against Trump for the good of the party.