How Retired General James Mattis Could Run For President As An Independent, Be Installed By House In Contested Election

Somewhere in the shadows of the GOP, a group of conservative billionaires may have hatched a plan to dragoon retired U.S. Marine Corps General James Mattis into an independent run for the White House, with an eye toward denying a clear victory to either the Republican or Democratic candidates.

According to a report from The Daily Beast, a Mattis candidacy would be a "plan b" should Trump ultimately win the Republican nomination. Nearly a dozen anonymous, wealthy donors aren't happy with the idea of a Trump presidency, so they have taken the initial steps to outline how a Mattis victory would work, in hopes of enticing the retired general into an independent bid for the presidency.

John Noonan, a former Jeb Bush aide who is now part of the movement to convince Mattis to run as a third-party candidate, drove home the deep loathing that this small group has for Trump.

"Trump is a fascist lunatic and Hillary has one foot in a jail cell," Noonan told The Daily Beast. "That means the lunatic can win. I'd be first in line to plead with the general to come save America."

According to the plan presented to James Mattis, the initial strategy would not be to play to win. Third-party presidential candidates have performed notoriously poorly in the past, while sometimes acting as spoilers, and the initial plan for Mattis does not seek to overturn that trend.

Rather than attempting to win outright as an independent, the proposed James Mattis campaign would instead seek to deny a clear victory to either Trump or Clinton. The central conceit is that, with Clinton's ongoing legal troubles and Trump's unpopularity among some of the Republican base, a Mattis campaign could prevent either candidate from walking away with the 270 electoral college votes required to win the general election.

In the event that no candidate receives that magic number of electoral votes, the House of Representatives would be called into session to choose the victor. The House is restricted to choosing between the three candidates that received the most electoral votes in this type of situation, which would likely be Trump, Clinton, and Mattis in the hypothetical scenario that could see the retired general elected President.

Even if James Mattis received far fewer total votes, or electoral votes, than the other two candidates, the anonymous billionaires behind the campaign hope that the general would emerge as a consensus vote, with the House unable to align behind either of the other two options.

While it is technically possible that James Mattis could emerge as a third-party candidate, and even win the presidency through unconventional means, the project to get him into the race at all faces a number of potential pitfalls.

According to Task And Purpose, simply getting James Mattis on the ballot at all could prove difficult or impossible. The effort could require his prospective campaign to gather almost one million signatures from voters in states all across the country, and deadlines are approaching fast. The deadline to get on the ballot in Texas is up in May, the deadline in North Carolina is in June, and the rest fall between July and August.

While that task may seem insurmountable, it could still be accomplished given enough financial backing. However, the bigger problem may be convincing Mattis to run in the first place.

James Mattis was first floated as a potential presidential candidate in 2012, and his name came up again this election cycle. However, Mattis was not interested in the job. According to The Marine Corps Times, the retired General claimed last summer that he didn't "have a broad enough perspective" to hold the office of President.

Mattis also told The Marine Corps Times that it was, "time for younger people, especially veterans, to run for office."

The Wall Street Journal's Uncommon Knowledge called the retired General, "a scholar's scholar and a warrior's warrior," and he has also been referred to as "the warrior monk."

If the group can convince Mattis to run, and if they can manage to even get him on the ballot, it is at least possible that they could pull off an upset and win the presidency, or have Mattis installed by the House if no candidate reaches 270 electoral votes. However, the potential for outrage at deciding an election in such a manner is already readily apparent on social media.

Do you think General James Mattis has a chance of winning the presidency, or are you worried about what might happen if these anonymous billionaires get their way and the House ends up naming him President in a contested election?

[Photo by AP Photo/Matt Dunham]