Bill Kristol has his GOP challenger to Trump?

By WND Staff

Bill Kristol, a key figure in the “Never Trump” movement, was said last September to be preparing a “political war machine” to take on the president in the 2020 Republican primary.

Last weekend he signaled he may have found a willing candidate, Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of liberal Maryland.

That prospect did not impress Joe Schaeffer, a former editor for the Washington Times who warned that the establishment Republicans who opposed Trump in 2016 appear poised to embarrass themselves again.

Hogan is “tone deaf” politically, wrote Schaeffer for Liberty.com, describing the governor as a politician who “likes to embrace touchy-feely talking points of no substance at a time when Americans have lost all stomach for the do-nothing politics of the past.”

CNBC reported in September that Kristol’s nonprofit organization Defending Democracy Together was seeking a GOP candidate to run against Trump.

Schaeffer pointed to a recent interview with the New York Times in which Hogan delivered the “banal soft-serve language that establishment Republicans especially relish.”

“There are an awful lot of people who are looking for a voice that represents the people who feel disaffected,” Hogan said. “I do want to be more of a voice of reason and moderation in the Republican Party.”

Hogan, who refused to vote for Donald Trump in 2016,
was quoted by the Baltimore Sun saying it “isn’t always easy to put the public good ahead of personal and partisan interests.”

“If it were, then leaders like George H.W. Bush, John McCain, and my dad would not have stood out from their contemporaries as much as they did,” he said.

Schaeffer pointed out that Hogan’s father, Lawrence Hogan Sr., was a former congressman best known for being the first Republican House Judiciary Committee member to call on President Richard Nixon to resign during the Watergate crisis.

Schaeffer said it’s clear that Kristol doesn’t believe Hogan has any chance of winning, insisting it’s about “siphoning” votes from Trump. In 2016, Schaeffer argued, Kristol’s candidate, Evan McMullin, was not a serious contender, running “only to cost Trump the state of Utah.”

“In other words, he was there to help Hillary win.”

‘It may not be that difficult’

CNBC reported in September that Kristol was engaged at the time with three potential primary candidates who are outspoken critics of the president: Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, then-Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Kristol was the editor-in-chief and later editor-at-large for the Weekly Standard, a leading voice in the conservative opposition to Trump, which ceased operating in December after 23 years. He served in the administrations of Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

“We are thinking of and doing preliminary work to prepare for a primary run against Trump,” Kristol said at the time. “People aren’t going to say they will run against Trump unless they have the infrastructure, but I’ve been trying to persuade people that it may not be that difficult.”

CNBC said other possible nominees on Kristol’s radar were Hogan and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

Kristol also was preparing a super PAC for 2020 Republican candidates that would allow his team to raise unlimited funds and produce campaign advertisements for a particular nominee.

Kristol’s allies included former New Hampshire GOP chairwoman Jennifer Horn.

Horn said she believed it was “likely that Donald Trump will have a primary and that it is entirely his own doing.”

“His behavior as president is damaging and demeaning to the presidency,” she said. “I believe it has damaged our nation.”

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