Two conservative PACs have announced plans to spend millions of dollars in anti-Trump advertisements in key upcoming primary states, and neither one is particularly worried about the prospect of inadvertently helping Hillary Clinton.
Both Our Principles PAC and Club for Growth announced Wednesday that they are launching anti-Trump ads in Florida, Illinois, and Michigan. Our Principles is heavily funded by the Ricketts family and is ran by former Romney deputy campaign manager Katie Packer. Club for Growth PAC has a history of campaigning negatively against Trump, spending $1 million in ads against him in the run-up to Iowa.
While both groups oppose Trump, neither offer a clear path for a victory for an alternative such as Rubio or Cruz.
Club for Growth communications director Doug Sachtleben told The Daily Caller, “If Rubio were to win Florida, if Kasich somehow comes through in Ohio, not that we’re fans of Kasich, you’re in a situation where you’ve held Trump from getting some of those numbers. None of the paths are clear, by any stretch. But we feel like there’s still an opportunity.”
This was echoed by Our Principles’ founder Packer, who told TheDC, “We’re just focused on preventing Trump from getting to the number of delegates he needs to get the nomination and we figure its up to the candidates to figure out who has the path, but if we end up in a situation in Cleveland were none of them have them, then that’s a road we’ll have to go down.”
A contested convention would certainly alienate supporters of Trump, and the Club for the Growth doesn’t want to seek this out. Sachtleben said: “Now, you don’t want a convention where people feel like something has been taken away that’s rightfully theirs, and clearly there’s a lot of voters that have made the case for Trump, but if it hasn’t met the threshold then there’s still opportunity at least to continue to make the case at the convention for another nominee.”
Packer though openly does not care about the potentially negative results of a brokered convention. She told TheDC, “I’m not particularly worried about discord in the Republican Party, I’m worried about losing our brand as a conservative alternative to the Democrats.”
Trump has dominated the Republican primary so far, having won the majority of primary states so far from Arkansas to Massachusetts. He has done this all while increasing voter turnout to historic numbers, having won Nevada with more votes than the total amount cast in 2012.
Regardless of this, Our Principles is determined to stop the New York real estate developer.
After Mitt Romney’s defeat in the 2012 election, the Republican Party released an “autopsy” in which it identified ways Republicans can bring in new voters. The report said the GOP should try reaching out to Hispanics and women. Donald Trump has brought in new voters, mainly from members of the white working class, and has even said he is responsible for a “new Republican party.”
When this reporter asked about whether there was something inherently wrong with Trump’s method of increasing turnout, Packer replied, “I think it’s a strange question.”
She told TheDC, “He’s gathering support from some unusual places in order to win a Republican primary.” Packer went on to say, “I’m not convinced that all his supporters are even Republican. When we’ve looked at the data, a big chunk of his supporters’ second choice is Bernie Sanders.”
However, Packer thinks that a Republican candidate should uphold orthodox GOP ideology: “I don’t think the path to appeal to new voters is to reject the principles that our party has held dear for decades, if you want to build the party you have to convince people our ideas are correct and ask people to join the fight. You don’t just walk away from those ideas and then try and build a whole new crop of voters, that doesn’t make any sense.”
This isn’t the only anti-Trump group to openly admit they wish to stop new people from participating in the Republican primary. A previous group, Trump Card LLC, ran by Liz Mair, issued a memo to potential donors that its intended goal is to not change the opinion of Trump’s supporters in favor of another candidate, but to keep them “from voting altogether.”
Both of these ad campaigns feature attacks that Hillary Clinton is certain to use in the fall if she ends up facing Trump, as they call him a racist and a bully. Both Club for Growth and Our Principles realize this and are unfazed.
When asked if worried their ads will just end up helping the Democrat nominee, Sachtleben responded, “What we’ve done is explain the truth about Trump. We’ve put out the facts about Trump, however people vote they vote, but we represent our members and our members want to see strong economic conservatives.”
Packer was more open about how damaging their campaign could be to the Republican frontrunner in the fall, “what we’re trying to do is demonstrate to people that these are his vulnerabilities.” She said, “well if you don’t think Hillary is going to run those ads, then I think you’re smoking something.”
When asked more directly if they are worried about helping Hillary, Packer deflected, “Our Principles PAC is worried about Donald Trump becoming the nominee and the president of the United States..he’s not a conservative, he’s not a Republican.”
In order for a Trump alternative to win, Packer thinks the past just needs to be repeated, “it has happened before, I mean we’ve seen him in race after race, when he’s started with 40, 35 percent in the polls and dropped down to you know 20, 22 percent, that support went somewhere.”
Neither PAC would say whether they would support Hillary or Donald in a hypothetical general election matchup.
“We wouldn’t see a strong economic conservative in a Trump-Clinton race and so we would focus on just trying to hold the senate majority with the Republicans we’ve endorsed,” said Sachtleben to TheDC.
Packer said, “Our Principles PAC hasn’t taken a position on the general election.”