David French

Image courtesy C-Span

Attorney & Iraq War Veteran
David French Possible Third Party Pick

| published June 1, 2016 |

By Keith H. Roberts, Thursday Review contributor

Conservative activist and editor William Kristol has been talking up the possibility of a third party run by a reliably conservative candidate for President—meaning someone other than presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, who last week reached the required number of delegates to secure the GOP nomination on the first ballot when party members meet in Cleveland this summer.

Kristol and his numerous allies in the conservative movement have been insistent that there will be some form of independent run at the White House, and in recent days Kristol has said a decision is close. The only mystery has been the name of that third party candidate.

Media sources are now reporting that attorney, writer, author and Iraq War veteran David French tops the list of potential candidates. On Wednesday, Kristol declined to say whether French was in fact the candidate he has in mind to run in November, but reporters who reached French said that French confirmed he was available to run if enough supporters could be identified and fundraisers could be recruited.

Trump, while hugely popular with millions of primary and caucus voters, has not been popular with many traditional conservatives and movement conservatives. Nor has he been a favorite of the establishment components of the Republican Party, including past candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain. Romney has said publicly that he cannot support a Trump candidacy.

But sources close to Romney, who has himself been talked-up as a possible candidate for a third party or independent run in November, say that he has little interest in running for President in 2016—this despite a brief period between late 2014 and early 2015 when he considered entering the race for President. In late January 2015, Romney told supporters and friends he would not run for President.

Other names have been floated as options for a third party, quasi-GOP run in 2016 as an alternative to Trump. Among them, House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has said flatly he does not intend to run for President this year. Kristol and his allies have also floated other names in recent weeks, including those of Mel Martinez and Judd Gregg. Other groups have advocated additional names, including that of former George W. Bush advisor and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

French, who served in Iraq, is a combat veteran and the Bronze Star recipient. French is also a constitutional lawyer, the author of several books, and a regular writer and columnist for various conservative magazines and websites, including National Review, long considered the mainstay for conservative debate and thought. French’s name was originally mentioned last week by the conservative journal, the Weekly Standard, which suggested that he was on the short list of potential candidates to helm an independent run for the Presidency.

GOP strategists and Republican National Committee officials take a largely dim view of a third party effort to rally conservatives—the vast majority of whom would otherwise likely vote Republican in a general election. Republican strategists worry openly that an independent effort to bypass a Trump candidacy will simply split the Republican base, shearing away critically-needed votes from Trump and in effect insuring an easy win by Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in November.

Trump took to social media days ago to characterize Kristol as a “dummy,” and to lambast the efforts of some conservatives to forge a third path toward the White House in 2016. Trump has also ridiculed magazines like National Review and the Weekly Standard for their efforts to foster dissent within the Republican ranks.

French is a social conservative who strongly opposes gay and transgender rights, and as an attorney, he has been active in support of the activities of conservative political organizations and right-of-center lobbying groups.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Gary Johnson Set to Become Libertarian Nominee; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; May 26, 2016.

Sessions Receptive to Idea of Trump VP; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; May 30, 2016.