(THE DAILY BEAST)
By John Noonan
As the inevitability of a Donald Trump nomination grows, many Republicans are moving to the acceptance stage of grief. Trump’s unfavorability ratings are historic for a presumptive nominee. Some reputable polls have him as high as 60 percent negative, many others have him losing by double digits to Hillary Clinton. Retention of the Senate, already an uphill climb in an election year swelling with vulnerable Republican incumbents, is an equally dim prospect.
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Not all conservatives have given up the ship. The presumptive Democratic nominee is a hair away from federal indictment. The presumptive Republican nominee is a reality-TV lunatic who has run multiple business ventures into the ground. Never before has a third-party candidate looked so viable, even the odd duck 1992 election that saw Ross Perot earn a generous share of the popular vote.
This third-party option would need to thread a needle. The candidate would have to be conservative, enough so that non-Trump conservatives —keep in mind this is a strong majority of traditional Republican voters—have reason to show up and pull a lever for him and the party’s Senate candidates. The candidate would also need to be sensible, experienced, and respected—not a demagogue like those who have so excited Republican voters this cycle. The name would need to be recognizable, but not in the garish celebrity sense like Mr. Trump. The candidate would need to convey strength in a year teeming with voter concerns about ISIS, cybersecurity, a rising Russia, and Chinese shield-thumping in the Far East.
So who better than retired Marine General James Mattis?