Multiple current and former Fox News figures criticized fellow Fox contributor Erick Erickson for organizing an “anti-Trump” meeting aimed at finding ways to either deny Trump the Republican nomination or run a third-party candidate, calling Erickson a “Benedict Arnold” and criticizing his tactics as a “suicide mission” against Republicans that could help elect Hillary Clinton.
Erick Erickson Partakes In “Conservatives Against Trump” Movement
Erickson Meets With Fellow Conservatives On Plan To Stop Trump. Conservative media figure Erick Erickson helped organize a March 17 meeting of Republican operatives and conservative leaders aimed at exploring “the feasibility of mounting a third-party challenge as well as extensive deliberations about whether a coalition of anti-Trump forces could prevent the billionaire mogul from securing the party's presidential nomination at the July convention in Cleveland.” As The Washington Post reported:
A secretive group of Republican operatives and conservative leaders convened Thursday morning for more than three hours to discuss ways to unite the right against Donald Trump, with a presentation about the feasibility of mounting a third-party challenge as well as extensive deliberations about whether a coalition of anti-Trump forces could prevent the billionaire mogul from securing the party's presidential nomination at the July convention in Cleveland.
Per three people familiar with the talks, the mood of the room was muted and downbeat. Attendees voiced frustration with the lack of coordination so far and wondered aloud whether Trump could be halted. The third-party scenario drew intense interest, but it was also acknowledged that it would be logistically and financially difficult with few high-profile politicians willing to take the political risk that such a run would entail.
Instead, a bloc of participants argued that the best option may be working in upcoming primaries to boost Cruz and prevent Trump from securing a majority of delegates. A convention standoff would be the culmination of those efforts, the people said.
The meeting, a breakfast of more than two dozen people held at the Army and Navy Club in Washington, was hosted by longtime conservative activists Bill Wichterman and Bob Fischer. Popular right-wing radio host Erick Erickson, another organizer of the gathering, did not attend due to illness but participated by phone, as did many other conservatives from around the country. [The Washington Post, 3/17/16]
Erickson Releases Statement On Behalf Of “Conservatives Against Trump.” Following the meeting, Erickson released a statement on behalf of the group “Conservatives Against Trump” which proclaimed “We believe that the issue of Donald Trump is great than an issue of party. It is an issue of morals and character that all Americans, not just those of us in the conservative movement, must confront.” In the statement Erickson called for “all former Republican candidates not currently supporting Trump to unite against him and encourage all candidates to hold their delegates on the first ballot” and encouraged others to “keep our options open as to other avenues to oppose Donald Trump”:
We believe that the issue of Donald Trump is greater than an issue of party. It is an issue of morals and character that all Americans, not just those of us in the conservative movement, must confront.
We call for a unity ticket that unites the Republican Party. If that unity ticket is unable to get 1,237 delegates prior to the convention, we recognize that it took Abraham Lincoln three ballots at the Republican convention in 1860 to become the party's nominee and if it is good enough for Lincoln, that process should be good enough for all the candidates without threats of riots.
We encourage all former Republican candidates not currently supporting Trump to unite against him and encourage all candidates to hold their delegates on the first ballot.
Lastly, we intend to keep our options open as to other avenues to oppose Donald Trump. Our multiple decades of work in the conservative movement for free markets, limited government, national defense, religious liberty, life, and marriage are about ideas, not necessarily parties. [The Resurgent, 3/17/16]
Current And Former Fox Figures Slam Erickson For Working To Stop Trump
Fox's Stacey Dash: Erickson Is A “Benedict Arnold” For His Anti-Trump Campaign. During the March 17 edition of Fox Business' Making Money with Charles Payne, Fox contributor Stacey Dash said Erickson was wrong about Trump not being conservative and that Erickson was a “Benedict Arnold” and his activities constituted “treason”:
STACEY DASH: I think he is wrong about Trump, first of all, and him not being a conservative. He is a conservative. And what's wrong with someone changing their mind? I mean, we want Democrats to change their minds about becoming Republicans, right? So, there's nothing wrong with changing your mind, and I applaud him for admitting it, for saying, “Yes, I was this way one time, and now I've changed my mind, I've learned, I've learned. I've become wiser.” And he -- Hillary Clinton, if we don't stand behind Trump, we are setting the floor for Hillary Clinton to win. A criminal, a liar, responsible for the four deaths of American patriots. A woman who should be indicted for a spillage of classified information that was kept in her barn as opposed to a skiff where it should have been. So, I mean, I don't understand. To me this is treason. He's a Benedict Arnold, that's what I think. [Fox Business, Making Money with Charles Payne, 3/17/16]
Fox's Scott Brown To Erickson: “Shame On You, Don't Complain. I Don't Want To Hear It.” On the March 16 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Fox contributor Scott Brown said that people like Erickson “don't quite see the big picture” when it comes to Trump, adding that if a Democrat is elected because Erickson and other conservative refuse to vote for Trump, “shame on you”:
MARTHA MACCALLUM (HOST): So, the word is that Eric Erickson of RedState and others are going to gather to try to continue this anybody but Trump or dump Trump movement which has really had zero success so far. Do you think they're going to get any traction? What do you think about that?
SCOTT BROWN: Well first of all, I've already battled with Erick Erickson, it's people like him and others, Mitt Romney included, that don't quite see the big picture. You have something very special happening around this country. It happened in New Hampshire, it happened in Massachusetts, it happened again last night. You have a whole new breed of Reagan Democrat, people coming in that haven't voted for a while who are looking forward to participating in the process. And to then say, oh by the way if it's Donald Trump I'm not voting for him, then with all due respect then they can look in the mirror the day after the election and see Hillary Clinton about to be sworn in and know that they gave up the judicial positions which you are talking about right now, which they can give up the cabinet secretaries and also all the ambassadors and potentially be that tie-breaking vote in the Senate. If you want to give that up to make Hillary or Bernie the president, then shame on you, don't complain. I don't want to hear it. I'm getting tired of it. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 3/16/16]
Fox's Hannity: Erickson And Other “So-Called Conservative Leaders” Have “A Political Death Wish.” During the March 17 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, Fox host Sean Hannity said Erickson's group was a “bad idea” that had a “political death wish.” Hannity went on to claim the group was engaging in “a suicide mission” and a “circular firing squad”:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Alright, that's from The Circus, the show with Mark Halperin on Showtime. And there you have it, basically talking about everything we've been telling you, including our friend Erick Erickson. By the way, I have no problem with these guys meeting, and if this is where they want to go, that's fine. I just think it's a bad idea, my own personal opinion. And Erick sent out, as we talked with Jamie about, I have signed no oath of loyalty to Trump or the GOP. “I'm a conservative, I believe in limited governments, free markets, free people. Donald Trump does not,” he said on his website. Now the group includes a whole bunch of other people, that apparently were at this meeting, and look -- this is now a growing narrative, that I guess people are going to have to face. I mean, if you look at the numbers, the numbers are pretty clear, that for Ted Cruz to win this nomination, he's got an uphill climb. And that is going to make it harder. So The Washington Post tells this story that today the group of so-called conservative leaders got together to plot a third party challenge to Donald Trump. Either these so-called conservative leaders have a political death wish, or The Washington Post is engaging a boatload of wishful thinking. Either way, that's just my take. This, to me, is a suicide mission. This is a circular firing squad. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 3/17/16]
Fox's Ingraham: “I Don't Know Who Made” Erickson “The Gatekeeper Of The Conservative Movement.” During the March 17 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show, host and Fox contributor Laura Ingraham mocked Erickson's activities, saying, “I don't know who made Erick Erickson like the gatekeeper for the conservative movement.” Ingraham also joked that Erickson would crash the inauguration in an attempt to try and stop Trump from being sworn in:
LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): Also, Erick Erickson, God bless him, he's going to join us on Monday. But he's having a - I don't know who made Erick Erickson like the gatekeeper for the conservative movement. And again, I like Erick, but he's having a meeting today, a big meeting to figure out - let me guess - how to stop Trump. How many of these meetings have they had? Go actually do a search Drew. How many meeting have been had since Trump got in the race of so-called smart people who are organizing to stop Trump? I mean, you get this sense that Trump will be sworn in, like it'll be John Roberts swearing Donald Trump in, it'll be in front of the Capitol dome, it'll be the inauguration of Donald Trump, and Erick Erickson will be rushing to the camera shot to kind of pull the Bible out of Trump's hands, right? I mean, like, 'no, we're not going to let him do it.' So he's meeting behind, again, behind closed doors.[Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 3/17/16]
Fox's Newt Gingrich To Erickson: “Don't Give Us Any Pious Baloney” About Why You're Against Trump. During the March 17 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Fox contributor Newt Gingrich criticized Erickson's approach stating, “If you want to help elect Hillary Clinton, then help elect Hillary Clinton ... But don't give us any pious baloney that you're going to be for some virtuous middle way”:
NEWT GINGRICH: But let me say for a second about the Erick Erickson kind of approach. Let's be honest. If you want to help elect Hillary Clinton, then help elect Hillary Clinton and a radical Supreme Court. But don't give us any pious baloney that you're going to be for some virtuous middle way. There's no virtuous middle way here. You're either for the Republican nominee, whether it's Trump or Cruz, or you're for the election of Hillary Clinton. There's no middle ground here. Functionally, anybody who doesn't vote for the Republican nominee, is helping elect Hillary Clinton and establishing a very radical Supreme Court. [Fox News, Hannity, 3/17/16]
Former Fox Host Mike Huckabee: Unlike Erickson, “I'm Not Going To Try To Blow Up The Republican Party Because I Didn't Get My Way.” During the March 17 edition of Fox News' The Real Story, former Fox host Mike Huckabee criticized Erickson's tactics as coming across as suggesting that “voters are stupid.” Huckabee likened Erickson's actions to trying “to blow up the Republican Party”:
MIKE HUCKABEE: And I was listening to Erick Erickson, who I like and have a great deal of respect for. But when Erick said that we got together and decided that this wasn't going to work, I just was screaming at the monitor. Who is we? I thought we had voters. I thought that's what we do. You know, look, I wanted to be the nominee, Gretchen, that's why I ran. But guess what? I'm not. So I'm not going to go start a third party. I'm not going to try to blow up the Republican Party because I didn't get my way. I accept that in an election voters get to make this decision. And the message that's coming across is the voters are stupid so we'll figure out a way to make the decision for you because we don't trust your decision. Well Gretchen, news flash: the voters don't trust the people who have been in power. They're sick of them. They're tired of their orthodoxy that hurt them. [Fox News, The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, 3/17/16]