President Trump recently fired a shot at the Lincoln Project and got completely owned by co-founder Steve Schmidt in a rip-roaring Twitter thread, which called out Trump for his botched COVID response (and behavior following his diagnosis), along with more standard (read: evergreen) anti-Trump fare like the alleged billionaire’s (also alleged) $500 million debt and low SAT scores. This weekend’s 60 Minutes brought some of the Lincoln Project leaders together to discuss why these “Never Trump Republicans” are working so hard to annoy the hell out of the president, like with the recent “Covita” ad. Are the Republican strategists who’ve worked for John McCain and George W. Bush afraid of backlash? No way, they’re standing firm.
At around the 7:00 minute mark, Lesley Stahl (who was clearly amused during multiple moments in this segment) asked, “Why is provoking him a good strategy?” Rick Wilson was ready with an answer:
“Every time Donald Trump loses his mind and throws things at the wall because a Lincoln Project ad is up, that takes the whole campaign off track. There’s one thing you never get back in campaign — that’s a lost day.”
That wasn’t all. Stahl asked whether Wilson was concerned of stooping to Trump’s level, and she added that the ads might be considered mean or off-putting to voters. To that, Wilson was onboard with the suggested impression:
“I hope so. There’s always a reflexive, sort-of do-gooder instinct to say, “Oh, I hate negative ads!” People do hate negative ads, but negative ads work.”
A bit later in the segment, Mike Madrid (who used to be the California Republican Party’s political director) spoke toward gearing some Lincoln Project’s anti-Trump ads toward women. “We find that women move off of Donald Trump first, and then, often, their husband will follow behind them,” he said. So, they want to nab two birds with one set of sticks-and-stones, which feels mighty economical.
It’s worth noting that the Lincoln Project’s Twitter account is 2.4 million followers strong. They coined themselves for the “Party of Lincoln,” and they believe that Trump’s presidency has taken the Republican party dangerously off course. So, they are using their joint political acumen (which was, of course, previously used against Democrats) against a GOP president. And Trump really can’t stand it.
For what it’s worth, co-founder George Conway (husband of Kellyanne Conway) recently resigned from the Lincoln Project for family reasons, but Conway is still tossing tweet-punches at the president for the heck of it. Once a “Never Trump Republican,” always a “Never Trump Republican,” it seems.