The Lincoln Project’s plan for preserving the union: Drive Trump out of office by driving him nuts
George Conway and a team of Republican activists are creating the most talked-about ads of the 2020 campaign.
in April. Their unique skill is talking to conservatives in a way that Democrats can’t, with techniques that they’ve honed over many Republican campaigns. They’re also targeting “soft” Republicans who may be persuadable — such as those who voted for Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016.
“The one thing you can’t get back in politics is time,” says Sykes. “Every day that goes by that Donald Trump is off his game or distracted is a win. He can’t fix that. He can’t go back and get it. What they found is that a single video can take the president of United States off track for a day or more and you see it play out.”
But you would be mistaken in believing the Lincoln Project was created to atone for past sins. Yes, there have been plenty of Republicans who have asked if their efforts over the past decades made a Trump presidency possible. What part did they play? What did they miss, ignore or tolerate? Republican consultant Stuart Stevens, author of
the new book “It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump,”believes the president is “a natural product of the seeds of race, self-deception, and anger that became the essence of the Republican Party” over the past 50 years. “Trump isn’t an aberration of the Republican Party; he is the Republican Party in a purified form.”
ADADBut Schmidt, who it’s fair to say is disgusted by Trump, is unapologetic about his life’s work. Yes, he urged McCain to pick Sarah Palin as his running mate, a decision ultimately driven by politics. But no, he’s not renouncing the Republican Party as he knew it.
“I think a good sign of being an idiot in life is believing that all virtue is vested in one of these political parties and all evil in the other,” he says. He rejects those who say he should be ashamed of the past:“The necessity for an act of atonement against conviction is self-righteous and smug at a level that beggars my ability to describe it in the English language. And I would suggest that they’re part of the problem, not so much part of the solution.”
One question, of course, is whether the Lincoln Projectads are preaching to the choir — Democrats and other Never Trumpers — or if they have the ability to sway voters who identify as Republicans.ADADSarah Longwell, founder of Republican Voters Against Trump, has taken a different tack. Her group has collected hundreds of testimonials from 2016 Trump voters who are planning to vote for Biden in 2020 and is using the $13 million they’ve raised — a droplet in the sea of campaign spending — to air them in swing states.
Her research shows that what people found persuasive was real voices, uncut, not produced ads. She’s specificallytargeting past Trump supporters (especially suburban women) with voices from people in the same state.What’s she’s hearing? Things like, “I voted for Trump in 2016 and I cried and I felt I needed to take a shower” or “I’ve been watching him since I voted for him and I just can’t stand how divisive he is.”
ADLongwell, a lifelong Republican, admits she believed her party would stand up to Trump’s worst instincts. And she was wrong.AD“There became this myth about Trump that his base is so strong and locked in and they loved him,” she says. “I knew that wasn’t true and it wasn’t true for a long time, and that there were a lot of people out there that could be persuaded if the Democrat wasn’t objectionable to them. I knew that Bernie Sanders was never going to fly with these people, but Joe Biden had always surfaced as somebody in our research that if it was him, there was a bunch of people who could be persuaded to vote for him.”
The once-mocked ‘Never Trump’ movement becomes a sudden campaign forceThis approach is not a knock on the Lincoln Project, Longwell says — ultimately, they’re all working for the same goal.And that goal, says conservative commentator Rick Tyler, means alliances with ideological opponents are important in the short term — especially with voters who feel left behind by today’s Republican Party. “There’s no philosophy,” he says. “There’s no belief. There’s no core. It’s just about Trump and his popularity.” The value of the Lincoln Project is that it keeps reminding voters of all persuasions why Trump shouldn’t be reelected.
“Right now you’ve got to kill the alligator closest to the boat, the one that’s going to kill you, and that is Donald Trump,” says Tyler. “Now, we can all view Joe Biden as another alligator or Nancy Pelosi as an alligator. I think they’re little alligators and they’re a quarter mile down the river. You don’t have to worry about them at all. But there’s this giant alligator who’s going to eat the boat.”
The White House, predictably, takes exceptionwith this assessment.“The so-called Lincoln Project is an absolute slap in the face to the legacy of our 16th President and the more than 62 million forgotten men and women” who voted for Trump, says White House spokesman Judd Deere. “This partisan organization, made up of elitists who favor the Swamp, are threatened by this President and his bold leadership to put America first.”
The president, of course, has made it clear he is NOT HAPPYwith the group. He tweeted that the “so-called Lincoln Project is a disgrace to Honest Abe. I don’t know what Kellyanne did to her deranged loser of a husband, Moonface, but it must have been really bad.” He proceeded to dismiss the founders — there are several of them — as “all LOSERS.”
Their history working for Republican candidates is anathema to some progressives; Trump’s base is similarly incensed by what they see as a betrayal to the president. Colbert’s “Late Show” cartoon “Tooning Out the News” skewered Wilson’s résumé and the group’s finances.
Trump’s campaign and conservatives have aggressively attacked the Lincoln Project as a moneymaker for the founders: Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel criticized it for “profiting off attacking President Trump.” In the last quarter, the group raised almost $17 million, which is targeted for expanded media buys. Are the founders getting rich? No, they say, at least no more than any other high-profile campaign operation. It’s politics as usual, or as close as this year comes to it.
“As far as I can tell, and I’m not part of this, they’re not doing anything different than any other political action committee,” says Sykes. “And yet it’s fascinating to me the amount of energy that is being spent to discredit them, which again, I think is a credit to how effective they are. They have touched an incredible nerve out there.”
Now the group has expanded its operations to Senate races around the country — targeting Susan Collins, Joni Ernst, Thom Tillis and Lindsey O. Graham — to drum out Republican enablers. The group has also pledged to pour money into vote-by-mail education and assistance.
“You can’t take your foot off the gas, but he’s going to lose and he’s going to lose big,” says Conway. “The reason why I’m confident of that is not because of the polls, but because of his essential nature, his self-destructive nature. He doesn’t know how to handle the current situation. He can’t lie his way out of it anymore. And if we keep the pressure on, keep doing what we’re doing, he’s going to dig himself deeper.”
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ProjectLincoln I can get behind that! HeyNikki1 pretty short trip for him He* already is certifiably Say NO to socialists Dems who tried to use FBI and DOJ to illegally overthrough the government and support riots in the streets. No Dems in 2020! ProjectLincoln You mean drive him MORE nuts. I’m all for it!!!
Like it. instead of driving trump nuts they went nuts Lol, The Karen Project Preserving the union? Sounds serious but some of us know why they are attacking Trump. He's interfering with the DC status quo. For him it’s only a putt Trump is already 3/4 of the way there. Easiest job ever.
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