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Trump’s Republican Challengers Warn Of Party’s ‘Wrong Turn’, as States Cancel GOP Primaries

Former Governor William Weld of Massachusetts speaking at the 2016 FreedomFest at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Former Governor William Weld of Massachusetts speaking at the 2016 FreedomFest at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

“Millions of voters looking for a conservative alternative to the status quo deserve a chance to hear alternate ideas aired on the national stage.”

President Trump’s three Republican primary challengers wrote a joint opinion column for the Washington Post on Friday, criticizing states that have canceled their primaries and the “wrong turn” in which they believe Trump has taken the Republican party.

“In the Trump era, personal responsibility, fiscal sanity and rule of law have been overtaken by a preference for alienating our allies while embracing terrorists and dictators, attacking the free press and pitting everyday Americans against one another,” the primary challengers wrote, arguing Trump’s effusive praise of authoritarians like Kim Jong-Un and Vladimir Putin is contrary to the spirit of principled conservatism.

The primary challengers argue that Arizona, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina Republican parties’ cancelation of their nominating contests is a move that makes the Republican party’s electoral system resemble China and Russia more than the Democrat party, which is conducting frequent debates between contestants.

The three challengers, who Trump refers to as “The Three Stooges,” have diverse backgrounds. The Guardian’s Martin Pengelly argues that the “current challengers do not stand much chance of upsetting or even minorly damaging Trump.”

Pengelly notes that while serving as South Carolina’s governor, Sanford was having an extra-marital affair in Argentina while claiming to be hiking the Appalachian trail. Joe Walsh was a Tea Party House representative from 2010-2012 who has been criticized for past racist comments and apologized. Bill Weld was the governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997 and 2016 Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson’s running mate.

Despite their differences, the three write that they have “a shared conviction that the United States needs a strong center-right party guided by basic values that are rooted in the best of the American spirit.”

The challengers argue that Trump’s frequent lies, divisive rhetoric, and refusal to be transparent about his business and financial interests reveal him as “a serial self-promoter who has abandoned the bedrock principles of the GOP.”

The op-ed takes note of the Trump administration’s rapid deficit spending, a policy theoretically in opposition to traditional conservative doctrine.

“Under this president, the meaning of truth has been challenged as never before,” the challengers wrote. “Under this president, the federal deficit has topped the $1 trillion mark. Do we as Republicans accept all this as inevitable?”

“Millions of voters looking for a conservative alternative to the status quo deserve a chance to hear alternate ideas aired on the national stage. Let us argue over the best way to maximize opportunities in our communities for everyday Americans while the Democrats debate the merits of government intervention.”

The challengers argue that competition, a “quintessential value” of traditional conservatism, will be squelched if states do not allow Republican primary contests. “Only the weak fear competition,” they wrote.

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a freelance writer with a Master’s degree in International Conflict Resolution. He has traveled throughout the Middle East and Latin America to gain firsthand insight in some of the world’s most troubled areas, and he plans on publishing his first book in 2019.

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