David French, the would-be conservative third-party candidate, announced tonight that he will not run for president.
Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol touted French, a National Review writer, as an impressive competitor if he entered the campaign.
Both publications are at the vanguard of the #NeverTrump movement on the right, given Trump’s lack of ideological purity as they see things.
Often classified as “neocons,” Kristol and his like-minded colleagues are generally globalists and interventionists, while Trump is running on an America First platform.
Foes of the #NeverTrump movement have argued that Beltway pundits like Kristol have proved ineffective in providing a practical counterpoint to the Obama liberal agenda.
“Kristol, along with other conservative pundits, long has been working to attract an independent candidate to run in November amid lingering concerns in some wings of the Republican Party about Trump’s conservative credentials. This effort to date has struggled to recruit a willing candidate, while running into logistical hurdles — including the rules and deadlines for getting new names on the ballot,” Fox News detailed.
Despite or because of his controversial rhetoric, Trump is on course to win more Republican primary votes than any prior candidate, the Washington Post noted. Any entrant dividing the right-of-center vote in November would essentially hand the election to Hillary Clinton by default, however.
French has a stellar resume; he is a decorated Iraq War veteran with a Harvard law degree who has achieved success as a best-selling author and constitutional attorney.
“It was a surprise when French, a Tennessee-based conservative lawyer who has little name recognition outside of elite conservative media circles, was floated as the potential independent candidate.” The Hill explained.
In a column posted on the National Review website, French explained that he is dropping the idea of seeking the White House.
“Here is a sentence I never thought I’d type: After days of prayer, reflection, and serious study of the possibilities, I am not going to run as an independent candidate for president of the United States. I gave it serious thought — as a pretty darn obscure lawyer, writer, and veteran — only because we live in historic times. Never before have both parties failed so spectacularly, producing two dishonest, deceitful candidates who should be disqualified from running for town council, much less leader of the free world…”
Suggesting that there is still time for someone else step forward, French added that ballot access for an independent candidacy is not the obstacle that some have argued it would be “but given the timing, the best chance for success goes to a person who either is extraordinarily wealthy (or has immediate access to extraordinary wealth) or is a transformational political talent.”
“I remain against Trump and against Hillary, but I will do all I can where I am,” French concluded.
His essay also claims that 2012 GOP loser Mitt Romney could win the election this time around.
Back around the time of the Iowa Caucus, French vowed that he would vote for Donald Trump if the New York real estate mogul, a former Democrat and Independent, became the GOP presidential nominee because “I’m not one of these Republicans or conservatives who says ‘I’m going to take my ball and go home.'” About a month or two later, French recanted and signed on to the #NeverTrump movement.
“Had he ventured with an independent run, French would have had the daunting task of raising massive funds while entering the arena with virtually no name recognition,” NBC News observed.
Prior to David French’s announcement tonight, Byron York of the Washington Examiner noted that “French has not yet said whether he will run. But if he does, or if someone else takes on the anti-Trump mantle, the new party will operate on a set of wishful-thinking scenarios in which victory depends on one improbable event after another.”
Despite the end of the David French independent presidential run before it began, Bill Kristol evidently has not given up, sending out a tweet earlier today that “Needed: A prominent Republican who’s said he’ll go along with Trump defects, leading to a cascade.” In another tweet, he insisted that “David French would have been a fine alternative to Clinton and Trump. But the path is open, and a better choice remains necessary.”
[Photo by Jae C. Hong/AP]