Selweski: Anti-Trump campaign by GOP bigwigs focuses on Michigan

May 27, 2020, 11:11 PM by  Chad Selweski

President Donald Trump

A prominent group of anti-Trump Republicans, gathering steam as the president struggles in the polls, made clear on Tuesday that Michigan is at the top of the list of targets for their campaign to oust the incumbent.

The Lincoln Project held their first virtual town hall, with key members telling 114 Michigan supporters and media on a Zoom call that their unorthodox support of former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, serves solely as a confederation of “temporary allies” in an effort to oust the president.

“We are encouraged by us reminding people what they already know, which is all the reasons why Donald Trump is unfit, incompetent, lawless and the worst president in American history,” said George Conway, a longtime GOP activist.

Lincoln Project organizers said Michigan is an obvious target as a battleground state where Trump won by just 10,700 votes in 2016. Beyond their highly regarded TV ads and matching online videos, the project is launching a friend-to-friend postcard campaign across Michigan to engage moderate Democrats, independents who lean Republican, and swing voters.

Cringe-inducing behavior

Conway, a virulent Trump opponent and husband to senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, said the fledgling group’s campaign is focused on traditional GOP voters who “cringe on a daily basis” due to Trump’s statements and tweets. 

In a recent Twitter assault, the president dismissed the Lincoln Project contingent as “LOSERS,” but the former executive director of the Michigan Republican Party, Jeff Timmer, believes that a significant fraction of GOP partisans in the state agree with him that Trump is a “jabbering, barking loon.”

“I’m not satisfied with a narrow victory in November,” he said. “Let’s blow this state out.”

The project was formed in December by Republican operatives who played a prominent role in the presidential campaigns of John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 and in the George W. Bush administration. They have alternately been described as Never Trumpers, dismayed Republicans or angry GOP loyalists who believe Trump has taken control of their party. 

'Mourning in America'

The group, operating as a SuperPAC, is on a path toward raising several million dollars, maybe more. The project raised $1 million within a day earlier this month after a Trump twitter tirade in response to a one-minute Lincoln Project ad titled “Mourning in America,” blasting Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

John Weaver, who directed McCain’s national 2008 campaign, has said that Republican senators -- Trump’s “enablers” on Capitol Hill -- are also in the group's crosshairs. With 21 GOP senators up for re-election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is the Lincoln Project’s No. 1 target. 

Conway said that the project is tossing aside past partisan loyalties to zero in on GOP senators who failed to take the Trump impeachment process seriously, ignoring calls for witnesses and documents. 

“These people need to be punished for what they did,” “Conway said. “… If they can be beaten, we’re going to be on their case.”

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