Is The 'Never Trump' Movement Backfiring?
LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Time is running out for those in the Republican Party who are trying to stop front-runner Donald Trump. There are just 10 more states left with Republican primaries. And the race could all come to a head about five weeks from now in California.
TIM MILLER: Some people in the Trump camp want to project a sense that the race is over. But there's so many delegates at stake in California. And Trump has such a history of erratic behavior. Five weeks is an eternity.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Republican Tim Miller of the Our Principles super PAC trying to deny trump the Republican nomination. He says first, though, they're focusing all their attention on another big battleground state, Indiana. Polls suggest Trump is facing a fight there next week with Senator Ted Cruz. Miller says the Never-Trump movement is putting a lot of money into the race there.
MILLER: We have ads up in the air right now just in Indiana. The ad we have up right now is focused on Donald Trump's past demeaning comments about women, where it's women speaking to camera old quotes that Donald Trump had said. Some of them would not be appropriate for the NPR audience. We also have, you know, mail, live phone calls, radio interviews that go over his record. And, you know, in summation, it would be his history of hurting regular people to enrich himself. And he has his brand of, you know, he's looking out for the little guy. But over 70 years of life, he's never actually demonstrated that he cares about the little guy at all.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I've got to ask you, you know, there has been a concerted attempt to stop Trump for quite some time now. And, in fact, what seems to have happened is that his campaign has only done better and better. Are you certain that this is really the right tactic?
MILLER: Well, look, I think that in the media, you know, folks need narrative's, right? You need somebody to be up and down and back and forth to keep things interesting for the audience. But the reality is, the demographics of the party have driven most of this. You know, Trump has struggled in states where there is a high amount of suburban families. He struggled in states where there are high amount of people that go to church every week because they're turned off by his behavior.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, that might hurt him in the general election, but it doesn't seem to be hurting him in the delegate count.
MILLER: Yeah, sure it does, in the primaries. So that's my point. He struggled in Wisconsin, for example. He struggled in Utah and Idaho. And then he went in the Northeast. These were states where we always expected him to do well, places like Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey. This is his home turf. So now he heads back to Indiana and Nebraska. And we're optimistic that we'll able to slow him down. And next week, you'll have somebody on and say, what happened to the Trump momentum, after Cruz wins Indiana.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, we'll see, but Trump has used campaigns like yours to show that he's being undermined by the Republican, you know, quote-unquote, "establishment." There's an argument to be made that groups like yours have actually helped him.
MILLER: I think that, you know, Trump is going to cry foul and whine no matter what happens, right? So the counterargument shouldn't be do nothing, right? And I think the reality of the case is that the establishment, to the extent that there is one, has been kind of starting to fold in with Trump. He hired the former Republican National Committee chief of staff and political director. You're not seeing a lot of senators out there talking about him. It's mostly grassroots conservatives. Conservative media are the last stand standing up to Donald Trump. And I think that a race between grassroots conservatives and Donald Trump is one that we can win.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: If he gets the nomination, will you continue this campaign?
MILLER: Well, the group, I think, is focused on stopping him from getting the nomination. So I doubt that the group will continue after - after June.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: There's also, of course, people who say these kinds of campaigns really just help Hillary Clinton, someone that you yourself have spoken out to very strongly against.
MILLER: Yeah. I think that the thing that would help Hillary Clinton the most would be the Republican Party nominating Donald Trump. You know, Hillary Clinton could just kind of sit at Chappaqua and drink mimosas from July through November if Donald Trump is the nominee because he has no path to general election victory. He's turned off women, Hispanics, African-Americans, Muslims. There just aren't enough white guys to win the election with Donald Trump. And so Hillary would be best positioned to win with him as the opponent. So the best thing that we could do to hurt her is to prevent him from getting that nomination.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Do you think it's still realistic that there that might be a contested convention?
MILLER: I do. Look, if Trump does not get to 1,237 delegates, the convention will be open, and it will be contested. You know, that has not happened in modern times. It's been since 1976 that we had an open convention. And the system is set up in a way to ensure that the nominee represents a majority of the party. And Trump has done a good job of getting a strong plurality, you know, the most of the people in the field. But he hasn't been getting over 50 percent in very many states. And you need to be able to coalesce the party to be the nominee. Mitt Romney could do that. George Bush did that. Ronald Reagan did that. Trump needs to demonstrate that he could do that. And we're going to fight him until he does.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You know, having spoken to a lot of people about this, as one analyst told me, the Trump train has left the station. And, you know, it seems to be going in one direction. Do you really think that at this point you can make a difference?
MILLER: The direction is defeat. Donald Trump is going to lose whether or not we're successful in defeating him before the convention or at the convention, or whether Hillary Clinton wipes the floor with him in a historic landslide in the general election. Donald Trump is not going to be the president of the United States.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Thank you so much.
MILLER: Thank you.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Tim Miller was communications director for Jeb Bush before he withdrew from the presidential race. Now he works for the main and anti-Trump group, Our Principles PAC. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.