Retired Marine Corps General James Mattis has been frequently floated as a third-party option if Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee. Now the seriousness of that effort has seemingly ramped up as billionaire donors are reportedly reaching out to the General.
Mattis — known as both “Mad Dog” and the “warrior monk” — is revered for his outspokenness and intellect. During the Iraq war, Mattis sent a message to Iraqi military leaders that said, “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I’ll kill you all.”
Political consultants Rick Wilson and John Noonan are among those spearheading the movement to draft Mattis. A memo they sent to Mattis obtained by The Daily Beast argues that if Trump faces the retired Marine, the billionaire businessman’s “fake-macho act falls apart.” The memo argues that Mattis “immediately blows a hole into the central narrative of Trump: his toughness.” It goes onto say, “the drama of watching it fall apart under fire would be amazing television.”
The demand for drafting Mattis is there and a political apparatus has already formed. A group of influential donors have assembled a team of consultants lead by Joel Searby. They have already produced six memos outlining how Mattis could win in a general election.
They compare Mattis to former general and President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He is a non-politician like Trump and at the same time has all if not more foreign policy bonafides than Hillary Clinton has.
The clearest path to get Mattis in the White House would be him winning some of the states Obama won in 2012 and thus deny Clinton or Trump the 270 Electoral College votes necessary to win. Then it’d be up to the House of Representatives to decide who becomes president — the Mattis backers are hoping they would chose the general as a consensus pick.
The real obstacle is getting Mattis to run. The Daily Caller has previously reached out to him about whether he would mount a third-party candidacy and he said, “I think it’s merely idle chatter.”
If he did run he would need to get thousands of signatures in each state to get on the ballot. Most of the deadlines fall in September. In one of memos obtained by The Daily Beast a strategist writes that, “the process is actually quite simple, but it’s difficult.”