Conservative Billionaires Are Pushing Gen. James Mattis to Run for President

James Mattis
James Mattis / AP
April 8, 2016

Conservative donors are throwing their weight and cash behind retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis in an attempt to pressure him into the presidential race to slow Donald Trump’s momentum.

The Daily Beast reported Friday:

Close to a dozen influential donors—involving politically-involved billionaires with deep pockets and conservative leanings—are ready to put their resources behind Mattis. At their request, a small group of political operatives have taken the first steps in the strategic legwork needed for a bid: a package of six strategic memos outlining how Mattis could win the race, in hopes of coaxing him in. The general has received the package of memos, according to two individuals involved with the project.

Mattis, the former commander of the U.S. Central Command, would be thrown into the race as a third-party candidate during the general election to siphon votes from current frontrunners Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Operatives behind the movement to coax him into the race told The Daily Beast the initial goal would not be to clinch victory, but rather to capture enough votes to deny Trump and Clinton the 270 electoral events needed to win the general election.

This would throw the presidential election into the House of Representatives, where the incoming lawmakers would have the duty to decide who would serve as the U.S.’s 45th president.

To accomplish this, The Daily Beast reported that the retired general would have to win several states that voted for President Obama in 2012, which could halt Clinton.

One of the strategists working behind the effort conceded to The Daily Beast that the chances of Mattis clinching the White House are "very low," noting the challenge of putting his name on the ballot in numerous states. A source close to Mattis said convincing him to run would be challenging, "if not impossible."

But the group of pro-Mattis strategists and donors believe that a contested general election could propel the former military officer to the White House as the "consensus choice" among a divided House, according to The Daily Beast.

"Everyone is hoping that Ted Cruz pulls it out, but I think a great deal of Republicans would rally behind an American hero if the choice is between Mattis and Trump," John Noonan, a former Jeb Bush aide now involved in the project to draft Mattis, told The Daily Beast.

"He’s a man of character and integrity. He’s given his life to his country. How do you ask someone like that to leap headfirst into this toxic mud-puddle of a race? It’s damn hard. But Trump is a fascist lunatic and Hillary has one foot in a jail cell. That means the lunatic can win. I’d be first in line to plead with the general to come save America."

Nicknamed "Mad Dog" by his troops, Mattis served in the military for 44 years and was dubbed the "most revered Marine general" in a generation by the Military Times.