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More than 150 Republicans have signed on to a letter calling for people to 'reimagine a party dedicated to our founding ideals or else hasten the creation of such an alternative.'
The letter, organized by former 'Anonymous' op-ed author Miles Taylor and former CIA officer Evan McMullin, mentions the ouster Wednesday of former GOP conference chair Rep. Liz Cheney.
It raises the possibility of a complete break with the GOP and the creation of a third party in the face of what the signers term 'despotism.'
They declare their intention 'either reimagine a party dedicated to our founding ideals or else hasten the creation of such an alternative.'
It all comes in a week when the GOP's internecine divisions were on display in the House – even as the party stands a chance of recapturing the House in the wake of redistricting and Democratic retirements.
Were a third party to break way, it could further hamper Republicans, who have failed to capture a majority of the popular vote in a succession of presidential elections.
The group, which includes four former governors and 27 former GOP members of the House, states that they oppose the 'disenfranchisement of voters' and 'reject populism and illiberalism, whether of the right or the left.'
It all comes as former President Donald Trump has been cementing his control of the Republican Party, after endorsing Rep. Elise Stefanik to replace Cheney as top party leaders come calling to him at Mar-a-Lago in the wake of the Jan. 6th Capitol riot.
Although Trump faced blowback after the riot – including a speech by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McMconnell claiming it was Trump who 'provoked' it – his grip on the party has grown in succeeding weeks. State officials have acted to censure Republicans who broke with Trump. Sen. Mitt Romney, the party's standard bearer in 2012, got booed at the state convention in Utah. And a number of states have acted to restrict voting and add ID requirements in the wake of Trump's claims of voter fraud, as polls show a substantial number of Republicans believe Joe Biden's victory wasn't legitimate, despite a string of courts tossing out fraud claims.
Among those signing onto the letter are former prominent political figures such as former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, former Trump White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, former presidential candidate and Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, and former South Carolina governor and House Rep. Mark Sanford.
More than 150 Republicans signed the 'Call for American Renewal' where they discussed a new political movement
The list includes former RNC chair Michael Steele and former national security officials including NSA head Michael Hayden and former Bush homeland security chief Michael Chertoff.
Several of their founding principles echo criticism individual group members have lodged at Trump.
'We oppose the employment of fear-mongering, conspiracism, and falsehoods and instead support evidence-based policymaking and honest discourse,' they write.
Trump mocked the group and Taylor in particular in a statement Wednesday, dissing Taylor, who became a staunch Trump critic after penning his infamous anonymous op-ed in the New York Times.
'A guy named Miles Taylor, who I have no idea who he is, don’t remember ever meeting him or having a conversation with, gets more publicity pretending he was in the inner circle of our Administration when he was definitely not,' Trump wrote in an email from his 'Save America' PAC.
Anthony Scaramucci, who served a very brief tenure in the Trump White House, signed the letter
The list includes former governors and members of Congress, such as former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, and former Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.)
Former governors signed the letter, including former Pa. Gov. Tom Ridge and former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman
The group, which includes four former governors and 27 former GOP members of the House, states that they oppose the 'disenfranchisement of voters' and 'reject populism and illiberalism.' Signing the letter were former RNC chair Michael Steele and former diplomat John Negroponte
Former New York Rep. Rick Lazio, who ran for Senate against Hillary Clinton, also signed on
'Some people refer to him as “absolutely nothing.” I hear he is on CNN and MSDNC all the time, but he had nothing to do with any of my decisions, and I wouldn’t even know what he looks like,' Trump continued.
Trump also called him a 'lowlife,' adding: 'Now he’s putting together a group of RINOs and Losers who are coming out to protest President Trump despite our creating the greatest economy ever, getting us out of endless wars, rebuilding our Great Military, reducing taxes and regulations by historic levels, creating Space Force, appointing almost 300 Judges, and much, much more!'
Trump added: 'Miles Taylor and his fellow RINO losers like Tom Ridge, Christine Todd Whitman, and Crazy Barbara Comstock voted for Biden, and now look what they have — a socialist regime with collapsing borders, massive tax and regulation hikes, unrest in the Middle East, and long gas lines.
The letter, titled: 'A Call For American Renewal,' is an exploratory move toward forming a breakaway party, two of its organizers said.
The group, which includes former officials at both state and national level, is dismayed by what it says is a modern Republican Party driven by its allegiance to Trump, who continues to falsely claim the 2020 election was stolen from him.
'The Republican Party is broken. It's time for a resistance of the 'rationals' against the 'radicals,' said Taylor.
Over 100 Republican officials will sign a letter on Thursday declaring that if the Republican Party does not break with former President Donald Trump (left with one of the petition organizers Miles Taylor) and change course, they will back the creation of a third party
'The Republican Party is broken. It's time for a resistance of the 'rationals' against the 'radicals,' said Miles Taylor, one of the organizers, explaining the letter, headlined: 'A Call For American Renewal'
Taylor added: 'This is us saying that a group of more than 100 prominent Republicans think that the situation has gotten so dire with the Republican Party that it is now time to seriously consider whether an alternative might be the only option,
'I'm one of those in the group that feels very strongly that if we can't get the G.O.P. back to a rational party that supports free minds, free markets, and free people, I'm out and a lot of people are coming with me.'
The letter is timed for release just hours after House Republicans booted Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming from her post as the Party's No. 3 leadership position – following her own denunciation of those who put forward the 'lie' that the election was stolen from Trump.
Taylor commented Wednesday morning on Cheney's speech, delivered to colleagues in a brief floor speech Tuesday night.
'It was an extremely symbolic and powerful moment that showed exactly where the GOP stands,' Taylor told CNN.
He called her 'one of the few Republicans that still retains her spine in a sea of spinelessness.'
Among the signatories are governors, members of Congress, ambassadors, cabinet secretaries, state legislators and Republican Party chairmen.
Taylor, while serving in the Trump White House, wrote an anonymous opinion piece in the New York Times in 2018 headlined: 'I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.'
The group first raised the threat in February here, following the deadly January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters to try to disrupt congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden's presidential election victory
He declined to outline the exact changes the group will demand from the Republican Party.
The group first raised the threat in February here, following the deadly January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters to try to disrupt congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden's presidential election victory.
The letter highlights the wide intraparty rift over Trump.
The preamble to the full statement, which is expected to be released on Thursday, reads: 'When in our democratic republic, forces of conspiracy, division, and despotism arise, it is the patriotic duty of citizens to act collectively in defense of liberty and justice'.
House Republicans oust edRepresentative Liz Cheney from her No. 3 party leadership position within the chamber
Most Republicans remain fiercely loyal to the former president.
The letter signatories, who include former ambassadors, governors, congressional members and Cabinet secretaries, want the Republican Party to return to 'principled' leadership and reject division and conspiracy theories, or face a new party dedicated to fighting for Republicans such as Cheney and against fearmongering and lies.
Backers of the reform group include former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, George W. Bush-era Transportation Secretary Mary Peters.
Backers of the reform group include former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge (left), former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman (center), George W. Bush-era Transportation Secretary Mary Peters (right)
Also involved are former House members Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania (left), Barbara Comstock of Virginia (center), Reid Ribble of Wisconsin (right)
Also involved are former House members Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Reid Ribble of Wisconsin, and Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma.
Former CIA agent Evan McMullin who ran for president as an independent candidate in 2016, is also involved.
They may face an uphill battle in getting any current Republican officeholders to sign on - including Cheney herself, who in February rejected the idea of a third party, saying it would empower Democrats.
A spokesman for Trump, Jason Miller, said: 'These losers left the Republican Party when they voted for Joe Biden.'
Evan McMullin said if the Republican Party does not reject lies and extremism, part of it 'will have no choice but to part ways with it and build something new. We're excited about that prospect.
Former house member Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma and former CIA agent Ewan McMullin who ran for president as an independent candidate in 2016, are also involved
The letter comes as Trump loyalists have flexed their muscle in Congress even after the president's defeat and the Jan. 6th riot.
Just 10 House Republicans voted to impeach Trump; House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago weeks after holding an angry phone call with him while the Capitol was under siege.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, delivered a blistering speech where he said Trump 'provoked' the riot. But within months, the Senate Republican campaign arm presented Trump with a 'Champion of Freedom' award that didn't previously exist.