Ex-Republican Bill Kristol explains how the GOP can abandon Trump and 'force him from the race'

Ex-Republican Bill Kristol explains how the GOP can abandon Trump and 'force him from the race'
President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence and members of the Coronavirus Task Force, speaks to members of the press Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, in the James S. brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

What Republicans say about President Donald Trump publicly and what they say about him behind closed doors can be two very different things. Many prominent GOP senators and governors are reluctant to criticize him publicly, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t privately worried when they see his collapsing poll numbers — and conservative journalist Bill Kristol, in an article for The Bulwark, has a plea for such Republicans: have the courage to openly reject Trumpism.


“My appeal is simple,” Kristol writes. “It’s directed to those who have not been opponents of Donald Trump. It’s directed to those who, for whatever mixtures of reasons and motives, have until now reluctantly supported or tolerated him…. It is to become former Trump supporters.”

The Never Trump conservative elaborates, “Donald Trump is not up to the job of president. He is particularly unsuited to lead the nation in a context of twin public health and economic crises. He can’t be trusted not to throw the country into a crisis of democracy and legitimacy during the forthcoming election campaign, and he shouldn’t be entrusted with the powers of the presidency for another four years. Many Trump Administration officials know this. Many Republican elected officials and donors know this. Many conservative leaders know this.”

Kristol goes on to say that Republicans who find the courage to openly oppose Trump have different options. One is to support former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee. The other is to oppose Biden but call for Trump to drop out of the race and give Vice President Mike Pence the presidential nomination.

“They may not want Joe Biden as president,” Kristol writes. “Fine. They may not want the Democrats in power. Fine. But they have, after all, an alternative. His name is Mike Pence.”

Kristol adds, “I am no fan of Mike Pence. Not at all. But it is self-evident that it would be much better for the country if Donald Trump were out of office for the next six months, and if he had no chance to be president for the next four years. A President Pence for the next several months — even with the possibility of a President Pence for the next four years — would be a good outcome for all Americans.”

According to Kristol, Republicans could tell Trump “that it’s time to resign and to turn over both the reins of government and the 2020 Republican nomination to his vice president. If Donald Trump ignores them, serious and patriotic men and women who have been Trump supporters could urge delegates to the Republican convention to withhold their votes in this emergency from Donald Trump, and could provide legal and political help when the Trump campaign claims those delegates are bound.”

However, plenty of Never Trump conservatives have been voicing their support for Biden, from MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough (a former GOP congressman) to GOP strategist Ana Navarro to members of The Lincoln Project. And Kristol argues that if enough Republican politicians had the courage to do the same thing, the GOP would be much better off.

“Serious and patriotic men and women who have been Trump supporters could simply announce their support for Joe Biden now,” Kristol explains. “If a sizable number of major figures did so, it would make Trump something like a lame duck and might force him from the race. Even if he refused to withdraw, it would weaken his hold on Republicans on the Hill and on his own administration.”

Kristol wraps up his article by stressing that no good can come from Republicans continuing to rally around Trump.

“Donald Trump has surely proven himself, even to those who wished him well and hoped for the best, to be — to quote the Declaration — ‘unfit to be a ruler of a free people,’” Kristol writes. “There is no reason for patriotic Trump supporters to continue enabling him. There would be a portion of honor in helping us get beyond him.”

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