Trump dominated primary contests on Tuesday and has the lead in the delegate count. But his loss in Ohio raises the prospect that he won’t secure enough delegates to win the nomination outright before the party’s July convention in Cleveland.
Trump’s rise has long worried many in the party. But recent incidents of violence and Trump’s comment to CNN’s “New Day” on Wednesday that riots might erupt in the event of a contested convention have escalated those concerns.
Erickson said his group is “committed to ensuring a real conservative candidate is elected.”
“We believe that neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump, a Hillary Clinton donor, is that person,” he wrote.
The group left the door open to potentially supporting a third party race if Republicans are unable to stop Trump.
“We intend to keep our options open as to other avenues to oppose Donald Trump,” the statement said. “Our multiple decades of work in the conservative movement for free markets, limited government, national defense, religious liberty, life, and marriage are about ideas, not necessarily parties.”
Rep. Trent Franks, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, attended the meeting briefly. So did conservative leader Bill Wichterman.
There was discussion that if Trump became GOP nominee, then “the GOP ceases to be a party for traditional conservatives, who must go elsewhere,” according to the source familiar with the discussion. The thought process at this session was to work with “an existing third party instead of trying for ballot access.”
That would probably be the existing Libertarian or Constitution parties.
Not all the attendees appeared to be giving up on Trump’s existing challengers.
“I’m there to support Ted Cruz,” said Mike Farris, a Republican lawyer. “There’s a lot of Cruz support.”
Another participant, Deborah DeMoss Fonseca, likened the Trump phenomenon to a “1,000 year flood.”
“It happens once every 1,000 years and you don’t know how to handle it,” she said. “So I think people have been experimenting with different things to see what would work.”