He’s also been engaging with three potential Republican primary candidates who have been outspoken critics of the president: Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Other possible nominees on Kristol’s radar are Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.
Sasse, Flake and Kasich have shown interest, according to Kristol, but they’ve also echoed what they’ve said publicly which is that they are focused on serving their constituency and helping Republicans maintain their majorities in Congress throughout the congressional midterm elections.
Kristol is also readying a super PAC for 2020 GOP candidates which would allow his team to raise unlimited amounts of cash and push out campaign advertisements backing a particular nominee.
A spokesman for Sasse did not deny the two have spoken about a prospective 2020 run.
“I’m not going to comment on what other people decide to bring up in their personal conversations with the senator, but — like we’ve said for a long time — Ben doesn’t pay any attention to the 2020 Washington rumor mill,” James Wegman, a spokesman for Sasse, said.
Representatives for Flake and Kasich did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Meanwhile, Kristol and his allies, including former New Hampshire GOP chairwoman Jennifer Horn, have been gauging voters on their receptiveness to a primary challenge against Trump.
“I think it’s likely that Donald Trump will have a primary and that it is entirely his own doing,” Horn said in an interview. “His behavior as president is damaging and demeaning to the presidency. I believe it has damaged our nation.”
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