A ‘Never Trump’ Republican leader organized a campaign to call independent New Hampshire residents in an attempt to persuade votes against Sanders in the Democratic primary

President Donald Trump delivering a statement about his impeachment acquittal.

caption
President Donald Trump delivering a statement about his impeachment acquittal.
source
Reuters
  • “Never Trump” Republicans in New Hampshire are calling and texting independent voters, urging them to vote in the Democratic primary, according to a report from the NHJournal.
  • The prominent Never Trump Republican Bill Kristol said the move was meant to avoid a general-election matchup between Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
  • Sanders, who represents the neighboring state of Vermont, had support from 26% of New Hampshire independents, the most of any candidate, in a recent poll.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

“Never Trump” Republicans in New Hampshire have started a campaign encouraging right-leaning independents to vote in Tuesday’s Democratic primary and not in the Republican primary, which President Donald Trump is expected to win.

The campaign, as NHJournal reported Sunday, includes calls and text messages to right-leaning independents but does not mention or endorse specific candidates by name. Instead, it encourages the independent voters to cast their ballot in the Democratic race and to support moderate candidates rather than the progressives.

“We’re trying to save the nation from a choice between Trumpism and socialism,” Bill Kristol, the founder of the Weekly Standard conservative magazine who is one of the most prominent Republicans associated with the Never Trump movement, told the NHJournal.

“We’re not asking people to vote for candidates they don’t like in order to mess up the other party, as some Trump operatives are doing when they tell people to vote for Sanders,” Kristol added, per the report. “We’re reminding conscientious Americans who want a good alternative to Donald Trump that they can help increase the chances of having such an alternative in November by participating in the Democratic nominating contest over the next weeks and months.”

Unlike in some other states, primaries in New Hampshire are open to people who are not associated with a political party. Nonaffiliated voters choose the ballot they would like when they arrive at polling stations.

The idea, Kristol said, was to encourage support of a moderate Democrat who might attract some Republican support and avoid a general-election race between Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

As The Washington Examiner reported on February 4, Trump’s reelection campaign has focused on New Hampshire following his loss in the state to Hillary Clinton in 2016. The president is planning to hold a rally in the state on Monday.

The same day, Vice President Mike Pence is expected to attend a Cops for Trump rally in Portsmouth, The Washington Examiner said. Second lady Karen Pence spoke at an event in the state on Thursday.

Other candidates on the Republican Party’s primary ballot in New Hampshire include former Gov. Bill Weld of Massachusetts, who is campaigning in the state, and former Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois, who exited the race last week.

“I admire what Bill Weld is doing, and hope he gets as many Republican votes in the New Hampshire primary as possible,” Kristol, who did not return a Business Insider request a comment, said, according to the report. “But if you’re a New Hampshire independent, and if you don’t want the nation to be subject to a Trump-Sanders choice, I suspect you can make the most difference by voting for a reasonable Democrat of your choice in the Democratic primary.”

“I’m happy to have joined with some others to help remind New Hampshire independents, who might be accustomed to voting in the Republican primary, that this year, they may be able to make more of a difference by voting for a responsible and electable candidate in the Democratic primary,” Kristol told NHJournal.

The president has previously criticized Kristol, calling him a “loser” in 2016. Trump has in general attacked Republicans he views as Never Trumpers, regardless of whether they’ve identified themselves as such.

A WBZ/Boston Globe/Suffolk poll released Saturday found Sanders to be relatively popular among New Hampshire independents, with 26% of respondents saying they preferred the neighboring-state lawmaker. Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, was in second place among independent voters in that poll with 24% support.