Is The 'Stop Trump' Movement Over? A GOP Political Consultant Weighs In
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
After Donald Trump swept his home state last night winning 60 percent of the vote in New York, we wondered, is the Never Trump movement over? Well, joining us now in the studio is GOP consultant Katie Packer. She created and runs the super PAC called Our Principles which is aimed at stopping Donald Trump from winning the GOP nomination. Good to see you again.
KATIE PACKER: Thanks for having me.
SIEGEL: Is the Stop Trump movement rather over now?
PACKER: Well, he hasn't been stopped yet, so we are alive and kicking.
SIEGEL: But after Ted Cruz's victory in Wisconsin a couple weeks ago and after some gaffs by Donald Trump, his campaign appeared to be derailed. And some people are asking now, where was your group in New York? Did you concede New York State to Trump?
PACKER: Well, we made the decision going into the final days in New York that it just didn't make sense for us to spend a lot of money there. It's a very, very expensive place to play on television, certainly. And we looked at the lay the land there, and we set after Wisconsin, that we weren't fighting to win states. We were fighting to win delegates. And we just didn't see a ton of real opportunities in New York to pick up delegates. It was his home state. He was popular. Our math calculated that he wasn't going to win - or he wasn't going to lose any delegates, and he actually ended up losing five. So in some ways, it was a bonus for us because according to our math, he still can't get to 1,237. And we're actually five points to the positive.
SIEGEL: John Weaver of the Kasich campaign seems to think you could've won a few congressional districts in New York State if you'd gone in there and advertised against Trump.
PACKER: Well, we made a different calculation. You know, I said to somebody earlier that I think what John Weaver meant to say was thank you for doing what you're doing because we wouldn't even be in the game right now if it weren't for you. And to that I say you're welcome.
SIEGEL: Your PAC's name includes the word principles. Is your objection to Donald Trump based on principles that you hold to and he doesn't or is it based on questions around his electability?
PACKER: All of the above. We're very, very concerned about the fact that he doesn't seem to hold to any core principles on any issue - on virtually every issue that's important to Republicans and historically has mattered to Republicans. He's been on every side of the issue. Beyond that, he doesn't have the character and the tone and the temperament to be president. And beyond that, he'll be utterly destroyed by Hillary Clinton in a general election. All of those things are of big concern to me.
SIEGEL: But leaving aside electability, though, everything else - and we have this conversation with Republicans - and then we ask, OK, so if he's nominated will you support him? Most Republican say, yeah, sure, I'll support whoever the nominee is. Will you?
PACKER: Well, I say, no, I will not. And, you know - and people say, well, then you're helping Hillary Clinton. And I say, it's not my job to give the vote away. It's a candidates job to earn my vote, and neither of those candidates in that scenario are somebody that I stomach supporting. And so I just won't.
SIEGEL: Can you really have an effective anti-campaign - in this case an anti-Trump campaign - that is not a pro-someone else campaign, that isn't simply getting behind some other candidate and saying he - not Trump - should be the nominee?
PACKER: Well, we'll see. You know, what we have found is that in some places, it was beneficial for us to advocate for one candidate. In some cases, it's beneficial to advocate for another. And moving forward if John Kasich is still in the race, if there are places that he's stronger than Cruz, we would gladly advocate for him and for people to rally around him. If Cruz is a stronger candidate, we would advocate for people to rally round him. The point right now is to drive this to an open convention, and that's our goal.
SIEGEL: If Trump wins, say, 1,100 delegates - not the 1,237 that's a majority, but far more than anyone else - can the GOP credibly ignore that and turn to somebody who either didn't do as well or didn't even run in the primaries?
PACKER: Well, you know, there's sort of this notion out there that the GOP is some kind of illuminati that is going to bestow the nomination upon somebody. But the GOP is a group of people that are elected to the floor of the convention as delegates representing states. If Donald Trump can't get to 1,237, he cannot become the nominee. There's no mechanism to hand it to him. He has to gather those delegates. If he can't get there on the first couple of ballads at some point, people are going to say we need to move on.
SIEGEL: Katie Packer, thanks.
PACKER: Thank you.
SIEGEL: Katie Packer is a Republican strategist, founder of a group aimed at blocking Donald Trump from winning the GOP presidential nomination. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.