Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol wrote Tuesday
he wants to recruit National Review columnist David French to mount an independent presidential bid.
Kristol has been seeking, unsuccessfully, to get a well-known conservative politician to challenge presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton in November.
Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, has already given up on a similar effort.
In a column pre-dated June 6, Kristol compares this year's election process to Argentina, calling the current list of candidates "a self-righteous socialist who's learned nothing in 50 years except how to rally the economically illiterate and uninformed; an heir to wealth who's done nothing impressive in 50 years except to hone his skills as a self-promoter and demagogue; and an insider who's climbed the greasy pole alongside her husband, enriching herself and her family through 50 years of 'public service.'"
Kristol said he'd love to see Romney run, or former vice-presidential candidates Joe Lieberman or Paul Ryan, former cabinet officials Mitch Daniels or Condoleezza Rice, or former presidential candidates Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush, governors Nikki Haley or Susana Martinez.
Since they have not, Kristol suggests French, who has written in support of Romney providing voters a third choice.
"The fortysomething French is a best-selling author, an attorney, and a combat veteran of Iraq," Kristol writes. "I happen to know David French. To say that he would be a better and a more responsible president than Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is to state a truth that would become self-evident as more Americans got to know him."
But Kristol also notes there are plenty of others like French who could do the job as well.
"There are thousands of Americans who — despite a relative lack of fame or fortune — would be manifestly superior to our current choices."
It would take an extraordinary effort, Kristol admits, but adds that "America is an extraordinary nation."
Kristol had hinted
he would have a name this week for his third-party effort, sparking speculation it could be Rice or Martinez.
French is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. According to the website of National Review, he is a constitutional lawyer, a recipient of the Bronze Star, and an author of several books who lives in Columbia, Tenn., with his wife Nancy and three children.
Reached in Israel late Tuesday afternoon, Kristol declined to comment on his efforts to induce French to run. The two Republicans confirmed that French is open to launching a bid, but that he has not made a final decision. One of the Republicans added that French has not lined up a vice-presidential running mate or significant financial support.
However, according to this person, some conservative donors look favorably on the prospect of French entering the fray.
Shortly after Kristol fired off that provocative missive on Sunday, he left for Israel and has been avoiding the press, speaking only through a series of tweets taunting Trump for responding to Kristol’s Sunday tweet. Speculation had centered on 2012 Republican nominee Romney, freshman Nebraska senator Ben Sasse, and other current and former state and federal office-holders.
According to one person deeply involved in the efforts to recruit an independent challenger, the search has focused on individuals who have one or more of the following three traits seen as vital for credibly launching such a bid: fame, vast wealth, and elective experience. Reached by phone Tuesday evening, French declined to answer questions about any possible run.
Material from Bloomberg News service was used in this story.
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