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Tipsheet

Rumor: An 'Impressive' Third Party Candidate Coming Soon?

If #NeverTrump chieftain Bill Kristol is to be believed, an alternative independent candidate is set to announce a presidential bid at some point, presumably soon -- identity and time frame TBD. Here's what the Weekly Standard editor and television mainstay tweeted on Sunday, touching off a tempest of speculation, hope, derision and scorn:

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Is that a prediction, or a revelation based on inside knowledge? If it's the latter, he must be referring to Mitt Romney, right? The 2012 GOP nominee has been harshly critical of Trump for months, was reportedly deeply involved in the (failed) effort to recruit a strong non-Trump option for center-right voters, and is rumored to be reconsidering his previous decision not to jump into the fray himself.  Who else (of the dwindling list of names still in play) fits that description?  Who else has an established "strong team" already in place, or at least one that could be mobilized fairly quickly?  Who else has the name recognition and financing network that would allow him or her to even sniff putting up a strong enough fight to have a "real chance"?  Given the historic unpopularity of the two major parties' presumptive nominees, it's no great shock that some national polling demonstrates a 
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healthy public appetite for a third option on the presidential menu this year. Indeed, a recent Washington Post/ABC News survey showed non-candidate Romney already pulling 22 percent against Clinton and Trump, who were both in the 30's.  Nevertheless, the ever cynical Allahpundit is almost certainly correct here:

Splashy national polling data and widespread discontent with the likely choices are one thing, but for anyone to take Kristol's "real chance" assessment seriously, let's see evidence that this third party ticket would be in a strong position to win -- not just compete in, but win -- several states. That is literally the only path to preventing a Trump or Clinton presidency: For this mystery man to carry a number of states in November, vacuuming up enough electoral votes to hold the two major party nominees below 270. Unless and until compelling evidence is presented that this scenario is plausible, let alone realistic, it seems as though any center-right alternative maneuver would only serve to pave Mrs. Clinton's path to the Oval Office.  This is especially true in light of the Libertarian Party's nomination of Gary Johnson and William Weld at their convention over the weekend.  Both Johnson and Weld are former multi-term GOP governors; their combined executive experience and commitment to shrinking the size and scope of government has already attracted the attention of many disaffected righties.  Let's say Romney jumps in too, despite the immense logistical challenges and expired deadlines.  The center-right would then be represented by three high-ish profile ballot options, leaving the center-left lane wide open for Clinton.  Unless Bernie Sanders decides to shiv Hillary and launch an outside bid of his own after she finally puts him away in the Democratic primary, Trump + Romney + Johnson = President Hillary Clinton.  Speaking of Her Majesty, I'll leave you with Jennifer Rubin hammering Team Hillary for their pitiful spin and endless lies in the face of the significant new report released by the State Department's Inspector General, pertaining to her national security-endangering email scandal:

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Every talking point [California Democrat Adam] Schiff is forced to present is wrong. She did not get approval. Her situation is not analogous to Powell’s. She did not turn over the materials voluntarily. And she did not turn over everything. One really cannot blame the surrogates, of course. It is the campaign and Hillary herself who are continuing down the path of denial and deflection. In doing so, she continues to cement the impression of a defiant, dishonest pol. Moreover, it reminds us, as Ron Brownstein remarked, that ” there was no one around her who was willing to tell her that she was wrong. And when people tried to raise questions, they were told to be quite. That is a — that was ominous traits for a president.”

fact-checked Democrats on similar points late last week.

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