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Bill Kristol’s Anti-Trump Campaign Is Set to Begin With a Whimper

May 31, 2016, 9:48 PM UTC
Citizens vote on Election Day at Fire Station #71 in Alhambra, Los Angeles County, on November 6, 2012 in California, as Americans flock to the polls nationwide to decide between President Barack Obama, his Rebuplican challenger Mitt Romney, and a wide range of other issues. Alhambra is one of 6 cities in California's 49th Assembly District, the state's first legislative district where Asian-Americans make up the majority of the population. AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Frederic J. Brown—AFP/Getty Images

For weeks, the conservative blogosphere has been rife with rumors that a Republican who opposed Donald Trump would launch an independent or third-party candidacy. That speculation hit a fever pitch over Memorial Day Weekend, when Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol announced over Twitter that a candidate with a chance of wining would be entering the race. The names being brought up were legion — Mitt Romney, Sen. Ben Sasse, Michael Bloomberg.

But it seems that none of those names will be the man to try to offer a third way to Trump and Hillary Clinton. Instead, it will be David French, according to a report from Bloomberg News.

Who is David French? Good question, and one even media insiders likely had to ask themselves.

French is a lawyer and a writer for the National Review, the conservative magazine that dedicated an entire issue to its opposition to Trump earlier in the election cycle. He served in the Iraq War and he co-authored the book “Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can’t Ignore” in 2014.

All of which is to say that while French may have impeccable conservative credentials, he is unknown to all but the most wonky of conservatives, and he is unlikely to be the candidate who can attract the huge swaths of voters he would need to win over in order to make even a small impact in the general election.

Kristol may not think that is the case. In a June 6 essay, he wrote that “the fact of Trump’s and Clinton’s unfitness for the Oval Office has become so self-evident that it’s no longer clear one needs a famous figure to provide an alternative.” That may be what Kristol tells himself to justify his continued resistance to Trump, but it is not backed up by any sort of empirical evidence. Voters still generally make their choice based on party ID, and it would likely take someone with serious name recognition — that is, not a fairly minor writer for a conservative magazine clinging bitterly to its own fading relevance — to upset that paradigm.

This report may end up being bunk. Attempts to reach French by Fortune were unsuccessful. Neither French nor Kristol commented to Bloomberg. But if Kristol or anyone else inside the #NeverTrump hivemind thinks that David French is going to be able to raise his profile enough in the five months before America heads to the polls to make even an ounce of difference in November, he is likely mistaken.