Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, is being courted by a prominent conservative figure to launch an independent campaign for the White House.
The former governor of Massachusetts met privately with William Kristol, the longtime editor of the Weekly Standard magazine, to discuss how best to get an independent candidate into the presidential race, potentially with Romney as its standard-bearer, the Washington Post reported on Friday.
The closed-door huddle on Thursday afternoon came as a growing number of leading conservatives hope that a viable third-party candidate could upset the momentum of the bombastic Republican candidate Donald Trump and the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.
Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee for president this week after his two remaining rivals, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Governor John Kasich, dropped out of the 2016 race.
“He came pretty close to being elected president, so I thought he may consider doing it, especially since he has been very forthright in explaining why Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton should not be president of the United States,” Kristol said of Romney.
Romney has previously voiced reluctance to launch a third-party candidacy. Kristol told him that in case he does not want to reconsider, many top conservatives would appreciate his support to shore up an independent candidate.
“Obviously, if there were to be an independent candidacy, Romney’s support would be very important,” Kristol said. “I wanted to get his wisdom on whether it was more or less doable than I thought.”
Kirstol said that he did not press Romney to run, but expressed hope that he would begin to “think about it a little more.”
A number of Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, have said they are still not ready to back Trump.
Two of Trump’s former rivals, Jeb Bush and Senator Lindsey Graham, also said they will not vote for the bombastic candidate.
In a bitter critique of Trump, President Barack Obama warned Friday that occupying the Oval Office “is not a reality show.”
“We are in serious times, and this is a really serious job,” Obama said at a White House news conference. “This is not entertainment. This is not a reality show. This is a contest for the presidency of the United States.”
Obama has previously voiced concerns about Trump’s foreign policy proposals, saying they show the billionaire businessman does not know much about “the world generally.”|
Analysts say the president will become the feature of much of Trump’s criticism in the general election. The former reality TV star will also try to cast the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, as an extension of Obama’s presidency.