A group of Republican donors and strategists has been working to persuade former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to make an independent bid for president, according to a memo outlining the plan obtained by POLITICO Florida.
The group has grown increasingly dissatisfied with New York billionaire Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner who has roiled the party’s establishment as he has surged ahead in the polls.
“The reality of the matter is that we will have President Trump or President Clinton — if we don’t have President Rice,” read the memo, which was written by Joel Searby, a consultant with Florida-based GOP firm Data Targeting.
POLITICO reported last month about a memo that a group of donors was working on with Data Targeting to look at the viability of a third-party run amid Trump’s ascent. The newest memo, sent Thursday, is an update on the firm’s work.
“We have been in touch with Dr. Rice through her chief of staff,” read the plan, which is stamped “confidential.” “She is reluctant at this stage. We are asking for anyone wanting to assist to encourage her to run.”
Trump currently has a nearly 100-delegate lead over second-place Ted Cruz, and a more than 300-delegate lead over Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Trump is polling strong in states set to hold their primaries on Tuesday, including Florida and North Carolina, where 171 delegates are at stake.
The memo also lists a partial roster of the “informal advisory group,” which includes Matthew Sawyer, a Dallas-based attorney specializing in ballot access; David Nolte, a media consultant; Mohammad Jazil, an attorney with Hopping Green & Sams; and Sarah Bascom, a Tallahassee-based Republican communications consultant.
The list also includes Data Targeting and donors. Names associated with polling, petition gathering, state-by-state organizing and finance were blacked out in the memo.
The group of people helping make the decisions was kept small by design, as donors want to keep a small inner circle during the initial stages.
“You will note the obvious absence of the beltway pundit set, the super consultants and 501(c)4 gurus,” Searby wrote. “We have tremendous respect for many of them … but for now, it’s clear from the donors supporting this that they are wanting a lean, men, clear look at this, without back-channel drama or vendor infighting.”
The memo does outline some of the group’s early polling work, which they say shows Rice as the only candidate with viable numbers in a three-way race with Trump and Clinton. Her favorability was at least 15 points higher than its unfavorability in nearly every battleground state where they were in the field.
Source: Capital New York | MATT DIXON