Democratic and “Never Trump” political operatives appear to be losing hope in the Lincoln Project, the left-wing PAC of ex-Republicans that’s been beset by scandal and embarrassment as it seeks to stop another term for former President Donald Trump.
According to Politico in a piece published Sunday, the disgraced group has “a growing list of detractors” as many fear it could actually be enticing Trump to run for president again in 2024 despite its goal of defeating “Trumpism,” and that it’s become “ineffective” and “counterproductive” following Trump’s loss in 2020, reports of internal strife and its failed hoax in Virginia to paint Republians as White supremacists.
The Lincoln Project also continues to reel over co-founder John Weaver’s sexual harassment scandal and a string of resignations earlier this year.
“It was the darling of the resistance for savagely attacking Donald Trump. But now, everyone keeps rolling their eyes at the Lincoln Project and fears they may be clearing a path for the former president’s reemergence,” Politico reported. “But a year after delighting liberals with their insistence on bringing guns to a gunfight, operatives across the spectrum now say the group is, at best, ineffective and prodigal, at worst, counterproductive.”
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Rick Wilson, a former Republican strategist and one of the group’s co-founders, admitted in a recent interview on CNN that he wanted Trump to run for president again because, he claimed, he would be the easiest candidate for Democrats to beat. That led one former official at the group to tell Fox News Digital the group was “utterly desperate” and “disgustingly unpatriotic.”
Both Democrat and “Never Trump” Republicans lashed out at Wilson, calling the suggestion the “mother of bad ideas,” and arguing that it could lead to Trump being elected again.
“The best way to ensure Trump doesn’t win the election 2024 is to make sure he doesn’t become the nominee,” one strategist said.
Wilson, who didn’t respond to Fox News last week when asked about his remarks, defended his statements to Politico, saying “Trumpism” was now a greater problem than Trump himself.
“I want Trump to run to destroy the people who are more sophisticated than Trump. I want to use Trump’s psychological problems to weaken him because I think the most dangerous thing we face is Trump with an Ivy League degree. All the abrasive authoritarianism and nationalism and none of the obvious deficits,” he said.
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Aside from Wilson advocating for another Trump candidacy, other controversies surrounding the disgraced group also appear to have driven a number of its former supporters away.
In January, allegations surfaced that Weaver sexually harassed a number of young men, including one that was underage, and that a number of the co-founders were warned about his predatory behavior. A law firm hired by the group later found that there was no evidence any employees knew about the inappropriate communications. Critics have questioned the independence of the investigation, given multiple firm members had financial ties to the Lincoln Project.
According to Politico, there were also internal disagreements over the allocation of resources, as well as tension with co-founder Steve Schmidt, although no specific disagreement was noted.
Most recently, the group was heavily criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for a bizarre stunt in which it planted fake protesters outside the campaign bus of then Virginia-gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin in outfits similar to those worn by “Unite the Right” demonstrators at the notorious 2017 Charlottesville rally.
The group faced a rash of criticism over the stunt, and ultimately failed in their attempt to help Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe defeat Youngkin. It was condemned as a hamfisted attempt to smear Youngkin supporters as racists.
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“There is an obvious self-interest to Trump world’s gloating over Lincoln Project’s troubles. But the general criticism — that the organization has veered from its overall mission and is beset by controversy — is shared elsewhere, including by those once involved with it. Now, some never-Trumpers wonder where their efforts fit in the broader Republican party,” Politico reported.