The Republican establishment, increasingly alarmed by the enduring strength of Donald Trump’s presidential bid, is ratcheting up efforts to knock him out of the race, including the first attempt to unite donors from rival camps into a single anti-Trump force.
The sense of urgency has mounted in part because Mr. Trump continues at or near the top of GOP polls, even after many predicted that the Paris terrorist attacks would lead voters to turn to a supposedly more seasoned candidate.
Republican operative Liz Mair is planning a “guerrilla campaign” aimed at knocking Donald Trump out of the GOP presidential race, The Wall Street Journal is reporting.
Mair, a former online communications director at the Republican National Committee who also worked on behalf of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential campaign earlier this year, has formed Trump Card LLC “to defeat and destroy” Trump’s candidacy, according to the report.
“In the absence of our efforts, Trump is exceedingly unlikely to implode or be forced out of the race,” said an internal memo that the Journal obtained.
“The stark reality is that unless something dramatic and unconventional is done, Trump will be the Republican nominee and Hillary Clinton will become president.”
Asked about Ms. Mair’s campaign on Friday, Mr. Trump responded through his spokeswoman Hope Hicks that Ms. Mair “worked for Scott Walker and lost her job—who can blame her?”
News of the recently formed group comes a day after the super-PAC supporting Ohio Gov. John Kasich, another GOP presidential rival, announced $2.5 million for TV, radio and other ads over two months targeting Trump in New Hampshire, where the real estate tycoon maintains a solid lead.
The super PAC supporting Mr. Kasich, New Day for America, on Thursday began airing a series of ads that show Mr. Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson while invoking the Nov. 13 Paris terrorist attacks. “On-the-job training for president does not work,” an ad says.
Mr. Trump responded by threatening to sue the super PAC. “John Kasich should focus his special-interest money on building up his failed image, not negative ads on me,” Mr. Trump said in a stream of posts on Twitter.
Another group, the economic think tank Club for Growth, has already hit Trump with $1 million in ads in the early-voting state of Iowa.
One possible ad would link Mr. Trump’s views and style to his celebrity foe, Rosie O’Donnell, in hopes of provoking a reaction from Mr. Trump, according to the memo.
Other possible tactics include fake pro-Trump ads that show him supporting socialized medicine, seizing property through eminent domain and taking other positions that stray from GOP orthodoxy; using a Trump impersonator to show him insulting people; and attacking his business record in “stark, nasty terms.”
The goal, according to the memo, isn’t to covert Mr. Trump’s supporters into backing other candidates, but to dissuade them from voting altogether, especially in New Hampshire’s influential first-in-the-nation primary.
The moves underscore growing concern among Republicans that Trump’s bid for the GOP presidential nomination, which at first was considered a long-shot, has moved closer toward becoming a reality as he leads national polls with less than three months before the first votes are cast in the 2016 race.
Mair described Trump Card LLC to the Journal as “loosely organized and highly confidential.”
She said she hopes to lock up funds from donors who are interested in pushing back against Trump but don’t necessarily want their involvement to become publicly known.