Mathematically affirmed as the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton is getting help from across the partisan divide – in the form of a super political action committee designed to trawl for donations from Republicans opposed to presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.
Republican lobbyist Craig Snyder, who started working on behalf of Clinton in May, filed statement of organisation papers Friday with the Federal Election Commission for Republicans for Hillary 2016. The political action committee can accept unlimited sums for advertising, direct mailings, staff and other expenses but cannot co-ordinate directly with Clinton or her campaign.
Snyder, the president of Ikon Public Affairs, plans to solicit disaffected high-dollar GOP donors and Republican insiders who are, like himself, in the “Never Trump” camp.
“This is a guy who is unfit to sit in the Oval Office at a time of international danger,” Snyder said.
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So far, the only donations to the effort have been “in kind”, Snyder said, including work on the organisation’s website and three videos that portray Trump as a reckless commander in chief who would put US national security at risk. Snyder, whose former business partner, Roger Stone, was registered to lobby on behalf of the Trump Organization in 1999, won’t discuss fundraising goals but he wants to raise enough to pay for online and television spots.
“I would say, strategically, we would like to be able to have a meaningful presence in at least a few media markets that we think are potential tipping points in terms of the Electoral College,” he said.
One demographic target is married suburban women, a bloc that helped George W. Bush win re-election in 2004 over fears about terrorism.
“We think we can make a very similar kind of appeal, and that’s obviously in the messaging we’ve already produced,” Snyder said. “The greatest danger Trump poses is in the area of national security.”
One of the videos produced by the group is dubbed “Too Dangerous” and includes clips of Trump’s own statements saying he supports waterboarding, as well as spots from national security and military experts, such as retired Gen. Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency.
The idea that Republicans have all come together to rally around Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, is false, Snyder said, even as high-profile party members such as Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin have endorsed the billionaire real estate mogul. Polls show weaker support for Trump among GOP voters than the party’s most recent nominees, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Arizona Senator John McCain.
Snyder declined to disclose other supporters. The new PAC’s statement of organisation lists him as treasurer and Corrin Merritt, also with Ikon, as custodian of records. Former Ikon lobbyist Stone, now a Trump supporter, lashed out at his ex-business partner’s pro-Clinton effort last month.
In an email, Stone said would-be Clinton supporters from the Republican ranks should read his highly critical book about Bill and Hillary Clinton, “The Clintons’ War on Women”.
“This carefully documented and footnoted book will shock and disgust you,” Stone wrote. The Republicans for Hillary 2016 website states that in any other year, “we would be working hard to elect the Republican nominee for president of United States, regardless of differences any of us might have with particular policies of that person”.
“But this is 2016,” the website states. “The Republican nominee is utterly unfit, by character, temperament, experience, and professed ideas – to the extent any ideas can be discerned – to be the President of our great nation.”
Still, Snyder said his assistance to the Clinton presidential campaign did not gloss over his policy disagreements with the one-time first lady and New York senator.
“This isn’t saying that everything Hillary Clinton stands for suddenly becomes our point of view. It doesn’t, and it’s not,” he said. “But if this country winds up in World War III, none of our disagreements about taxes and regulations will matter. … So I’m very comfortable with Secretary Clinton in that role as commander in chief.”