Anti-Trump Republicans Call for a Third-Party Option
By ALEXANDER BURNS MARCH 2, 2016
Spurred by Donald J. Trump’s mounting victories, a small but influential — and growing — group of conservative leaders are calling for a third-party option to spare voters a wrenching general election choice between a Republican they consider completely unacceptable and Hillary Clinton.
While he has gained intense popularity on the right, Mr. Trump has alienated key blocs in the Republican coalition with his slash-and-burn campaign. For many, his initial refusal last weekend to disavow an endorsement from David Duke, the white supremacist, was a breaking point.
William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine, said he would work actively to put forward an “independent Republican” ticket if Mr. Trump was the nominee, and floated Mr. Sasse as a recruit.
“That ticket would simply be a one-time, emergency adjustment to the unfortunate circumstance (if it happens) of a Trump nomination,” Mr. Kristol wrote in an email. It “would support other Republicans running for Congress and other offices, and would allow voters to correct the temporary mistake (if they make it) of nominating Trump.”
Max Boot, a foreign policy adviser to Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, said that if efforts to block Mr. Trump fell short, he would vote against a Republican nominee for the first time in his life.
… Defections of any scale could prove lethal to Mr. Trump. He already trails Mrs. Clinton in general election polls, and polling already shows the possibility of mass desertions from the party. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey this week found that 48 percent of Republicans who do not already back Mr. Trump said they would probably not or definitely not support him in November.