A group of Republicans unhappy with the GOP’s embrace of former President Donald Trump says it is taking the next steps to change the course of the party, or create an alternative to it.
More than 100 Republican former governors, members of Congress, cabinet officials and others plan to release a “call for American renewal” statement of principles and vision for the party on Thursday, a day after House Republicans removed Liz Cheney from their leadership ranks for her opposition to Trump’s false claims about a stolen 2020 election that sparked an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
The group is prepared to raise “tens of millions” of dollars to support candidates in competitive 2022 midterm elections that will decide control of Congress and is laying the groundwork for an alternative party if the GOP doesn’t change course, said Evan McMullin, a former chief policy director for the House Republican Conference who challenged Trump as an independent in 2016 and is one of the organizers.
“We see the primary political struggle in America now is between those who seek to discard our democratic Republic and the ideals that support it, and those who seek to defend and advance it,” McMullin said.
Among those signing the statement are Christine Todd Whitman, a former New Jersey Governor and Environmental Protection Agency administrator under George W. Bush; Tom Ridge, a former Pennsylvania governor and Homeland Security secretary; Mary Peters, a former U.S. transportation secretary; former Pennsylvania Representative Charlie Dent; former Representative Barbara Comstock of Virginia; former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff; and former CIA Director Michael Hayden, McMullin said.
The action stems from a virtual summit with disaffected Republicans in February organized by the non-profit advocacy group that McMullin helps lead, Stand Up Republic; as well as the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform, or REPAIR, which includes Miles Taylor, the former Trump administration official who wrote an unsigned book and essay criticizing him; and the nonprofit Principles First.
The statement of principles and new vision for the party that the group is releasing on Thursday will call on the GOP to recommit to ideals such as the rule of law—and if party leaders can’t or won’t, there’ll be no choice but to develop an alternative, McMullin said.
McMullin acknowledged polls showing that an overwhelming majority of Republicans still support Trump and want him leading the party. But he pointed to the many Republicans who left the GOP after Jan. 6 and estimated that as much as a third of the traditional GOP base wants a different direction.
“We’re still in the minority, but it’s a growing minority,” McMullin said. “The problem certainly in the Republican Party is that it’s been consumed by loyalty to one man and to the self-serving lies of one man.