Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Republican Establishment Call on Donald Trump Supporters to 'Retract'

This is rather astonishing ... and kudos to Mike Huckabee for standing firm.

Conservative thought-leaders are ratcheting up their attempts to take out Donald Trump, despite his long-lasting front-runner status that was just underscored by his five-state sweep of Tuesday's primaries.

But at least one key conservative, former presidential candidate and governor Mike Huckabee, has stepped forward to defend Trump, saying in an email the billionaire businessman is the best candidate to take on Hillary Clinton – and he should know, given his years of experiencing fighting off the Clinton family during his executive leadership in Arkansas.

The groundswell of establishment conservative push-back against Trump started Tuesday, as ballots were being counted.

In an interview on MSNBC on "Andrea Mitchell Reports," Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, insisted it was still feasible for a third party candidate to jump into the political fray and fight back the support that's been swelling for Trump.

"I think the public deserves an alternative," he said. "I think Clinton and Trump are unusually unfavorably viewed by the public, which offers a political opportunity as well as I think a substantive opportunity for the country for someone to set forth to do the right thing for the country."

He then said, Breitbart reported: "There is also the possibility of getting on the ballot of a small party that's already on the ballot in North Carolina and Texas. The Reform party in particular. I think it is more doable than people think. The key is obviously having compelling candidates."

Kristol said "those discussions are taking place in private" and it won't be long before the country "see[s] what happens" with them.

"I think there is too much resignation and fatalism, especially among the people," he said. "If you think we deserve better than Trump and Clinton and I certainly do, I guess I'm annoyed at other people who are activists and donors and politicians, who sort of sit back and watch the slow motion car crash happening. It is happening in slow motion. There is time to avert it. There is time to get out of your own car and help, and instead people are sitting in their air conditioned cars and saying, 'Gee, it's too bad about the car crash the whole United States of America is about to have by being faced with the choice of Clinton and Trump.'"

Meanwhile, Breitbart just published an open letter to "friends and allies" of Trump penned by the chairman of the conservative grassroots nonprofit ForAmerica, Brent Bozell, who called on the billionaire's supporters to retract their endorsement of his candidacy.

Bozell, who has endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz for the White House, wrote in part: "Sarah Palin, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee and Phyllis Schlafly – you are friends and allies, serious men and women for whom I have great respect. ... I pen this open letter to you. ... Does Donald Trump mean a word he says? Are conservative leaders supporting Trump prepared to live with the consequences if he doesn't?"

The letter then listed several areas where Trump has fallen from the conservative line, including his views on amnesty, abortion, gay marriage, eminent domain, government bailouts, restrictions on "assault weapons," and universal health care.

"But Trump said he's changed," the letter continues. "On everything. Overnight. Just in time for the GOP nomination fight. Really? ... This isn't about purity. It's about basic sanity. Do the most courageous thing you've ever done, in a lifetime of bravery. Retract your endorsement."

That letter follows several written weeks ago by dozens of conservatives to National Review, all of whom pointed out their various reasons for opposing a Trump nomination.

But Huckabee, who dropped his own bid for the presidency in February, after a weak showing in the Iowa caucuses, said he's standing by Trump – even though he's never officially endorsed him.

"The irony is that I have not endorsed in the primary," he said, in emailed response to the call for his retraction. "I think some assume if you don't hate Trump and spew venom at him, you must have endorsed."

Still, he said, Trump's his pick.

"For the record, I like Trump and think he is our very best hope to beat Hillary and I know Hillary probably a lot better than any Republican who ran this year," Huckabee said. "Trump [has] said a lot of what I said 10 years ago and since about trade, the working class, failures of our foreign policy and the way the game is rigged by the elites. Too bad for me, but the media gave Trump hours to my seconds of coverage. [B]ut I appreciate that he is the only candidate left who isn't owned by the Wall Street donor class and that alone would be a seismic shift."

Huckabee also said he's aware of Trump's differences in views on social issues – but in the end, he remains the best of the existing candidates.

"I have no illusion that Trump would be as strong on issues like life and marriage as me," Huckabee said, "but neither will Cruz, although he makes good lawyerly speeches making people believe he will fight for those issues.  But if people read the fine print, they will learn that [Cruz would] leave such things to the states or SCOTUS, which means he will be all thunder and no rain but will leave voters feeling used again just like we were in the Bush years."

So his takeaway?

It's Trump, not Cruz, who could better lead the country, he said.

"Like the song by the Who, 'we won't be fooled again,'" Huckabee wrote.

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