According to a new report from the Daily Beast, the Biden campaign is putting together a coalition of “NeverTrump” Republican supporters they hope to leverage in their Presidential campaign.
Names mentioned include Jeff Flake, Bill Kristol and Charlie Sykes.
Per DailyBeast when presented with Biden’s comments, GOP sources interviewed referenced two main possibilities: an external group that would work on his behalf as a political action committee—similar to other Democratic-led outside groups—that could theoretically clear a pathway for others to join; or an internal operation within Biden’s campaign, with one or more recognizable Republican figures joining as the public face.
A second source well-placed in Republican circles—who has had conversations with senior Biden advisers in recent weeks—said that any mounting effort would most likely come from within the campaign’s vast network.
“My impression is the official one will be part of the campaign,” the Republican source said, referencing the apparent “Republicans for Biden” group Biden mentioned himself.
Among the GOP’s more ardent anti-Trump faction, several names came up in conversation when asked who could theoretically have a role in an outside political entity, which would not be allowed under campaign finance laws to coordinate with the campaign directly. Those names include former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Wisconsin-based political analyst Charlie Sykes, conservative media giant Bill Kristol, former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, longtime campaign operative Steve Schmidt, former Rep. David Jolly (R-FL), and columnist Mona Charen, among others.
Meanwhile, one name in particular has been floated as a choice to help give legs to such an effort from the inside: former Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The source who has spoken to top Biden allies about a number of topics said there has been discussion in Bidenworld about Kasich, a leading NeverTrump voice, who joined as a CNN analyst after leaving office in January 2019.
A senior Kasich strategist denied any discussions.
“A coalition like this has to be knitted together very carefully because it can very quickly fall apart and everyone is made to look stupid,” the source said. “That’s the last thing that anyone who gets out on this bandwagon wants to do when they realize that the wheels aren’t on securely.”
While most Republicans interviewed spoke candidly about the first portion of Biden’s statement, when asked about the second part—that “major officeholders” are starting this effort—no GOP source contacted could present a concrete name. Indeed, most admitted they would be shocked to hear of anyone at the Senate or House level likely to take such a step, but did not rule out the possibility that Biden could be referring to state or local elected officials.
Others are less convinced. Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), who plans to vote for the Democrat in an expected Trump vs. Biden matchup, said “it’s still a leap,” for a Republican to publicly say they’re against Trump. “It still takes some balls, and so I don’t think you’ll see a huge number of well known names,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s any freaking way a current elected Republican would ever sign their name on to Republicans for Biden,” Walsh said. “They’ve demonstrated over the course of the last three years that they’re just too damn cowardly to do that.”
That sense of skepticism was picked up in other conversations.
“No one wants to end up like Jeff Flake,” Fergus Cullen, a Trump critic and past chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party said about the former Arizona senator, who retired from the Senate with an isolated anti-Trump crusade early last year.