Following widely-circulated rumors in February that conservative donors were seeking professional consultation about drafting a third-party candidate to run for president, The Daily Beast reported Friday that the group of “anonymous” billionaires are actively recruiting U.S. Marine Corp. Gen. James Mattis to launch an independent White House bid.
The group consists of approximately 10 wealthy political activists and has already employed a team of strategists, headed by Gainesville, FL, based GOP consultant, Joel Searby.
Advisers have laid out six memos on electoral and political strategy for an independent-conservative candidate to block both major candidates from receiving the necessary 270 electoral votes in November, thus throwing the vote to the House of Representatives.
According to sources, Mattis has personally received those memos.
“Everyone is hoping that Ted Cruz pulls it out, but I think a great deal of Republicans would rally behind an American hero if the choice is between Mattis and Trump,” said GOP strategist and former Jeb Bush adviser, John Noonan. “(Mattis) is a man of character and integrity . . . How do you ask someone like that to leap headfirst into this toxic mud puddle of a race?”
Gen. Mattis, the former commander of U.S. Central Command, was touted in a 2012 online campaign as a write-in candidate for president.
However appealing Mattis’ candidacy may be for conservatives, according to a source close to the General, “It is difficult, if not impossible, to see him accepting being drafted.”
In July 2015, Mattis gave a speech at Columbia Basin College in Washington state in which his famously said, “I’ve lived a very colorful life and I’ve said some things. But not once have I taken them back, and I’ve never apologized for them — and I won’t. I like the enemy knowing knowing there are a few guys like me around.”
Later in the speech, however, the General admitted he doesn’t “have a broad enough perspective” to be president.
Despite the humility regarding his own political abilities, a memo by Noonan and fellow strategist Rick Wilson glowingly predicts that Trump’s “fake-macho act falls apart” if faced with someone like Mattis, who has “all the iconoclastic, authentic style of a non-politician Trump — and all the serious government service credibility of Hillary Clinton.”
However exalting that assessment of Mattis’ appeal sounds, Richard Kohn, professor emeritus of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill brings the analysis of his presidential prospects back down to earth.
“(Mattis is) somewhat of a cult figure in the Marine Corp., and some of the other service and veteran communities”, said Kohn. “But he’s not of the public visibility that normally goes with a real effort to draft a senior military leader. He’s more of an inside-the-military sort of guy.”
Time is running out for any potential third-party contenders in 2016, as the first deadline for state presidential ballot access is May 9 in Texas.
[The Daily Beast] [Marine Corp Times]