The Groups Trying to Stop Donald Trump

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures as he speaks at a campaign rally, Feb. 5, 2016, in Florence, S.C. PlayJohn Bazemore/AP Photo
WATCH Donald Trump and Mitt Romney in War of Words

There are several groups behind the “Stop Trump” or #NeverTrump effort. Currently, the different forces are not coordinated, but here’s a look at all those forces at work, and the connections they do have. This doesn’t include candidate efforts, instead just third-party forces.

1. Mitt Romney

The 2012 GOP presidential nominee gave a speech in Salt Lake City today taking Trump head on. In the scathing address, Romney called the GOP front-runner a “phony, a fraud. ... His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.”

He goes on to say his “domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe.”

Some of the attacks were even personal, saying, “A business genius he is not,” and ticking off the Trump ventures that soured, including Trump Vodka and Trump Steaks.

Romney declined to endorse anyone else, but essentially called for a contested convention, saying, "Given the current delegate selection process, this means that I would vote for Marco Rubio in Florida, for John Kasich in Ohio, and for Ted Cruz or whichever one of the other two contenders has the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state.”

If no candidate gets over the magic number of 1,237 delegates, the primary could go to a contested convention in Cleveland this July.

2. Our Principles PAC

This anti-Trump super PAC has been ramping up. It now has the financial backing of GOP donors HP President and CEO Meg Whitman, New York hedge fund owner billionaire Paul Singer, and Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts.

Their new spokesman is also Jeb Bush’s former spokesman, Tim Miller, an aggressive communicator. Ricketts, along with his mother Marlene, have been major funders of the group, which is being run by Katie Packer, a former top aide to Mitt Romney. The group is running an ad backed by a seven figure buy in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and national cable hitting the GOP front-runner on his Trump University.

In the ad, the narrator says “Donald Trump belongs in 3 AM infomercials, not here,” over an image of the White House. They also have a digital ad running using Trump’s comments to Jake Tapper on CNN when he initially refused to disavow David Duke and the KKK.

3. Veterans Against the Deal

This is a super PAC formed to speak out against the Iran Deal is now going after Trump and they came out with a new ad today.

The group spoke out in February when Trump attacked George W. Bush, saying Trump sounded like a “9/11 Truther.” The executive director is a man named Michael Pregent. He describes himself as an Iraq War veteran, former intelligence adviser to Gen. David Petraeus, and a fellow at the Hudson Institute.

The ad today has a 60-second version that will be online and a short 30-second version will air in Ohio and Florida ahead of March 15. It also aired last night on Fox News. The group says it will assess if it is putting more money behind the ad after tonight’s debate, but note there will be more ads. The ad highlights Trump’s “erratic” and “inconsistent” stance on the Iran Deal and says he agrees with “Clinton, Kerry and Obama.”

4. American Future Fund

This super PAC has released ads attacking Trump, also focusing on Trump University. Their ads use testimonials from former students who say they were scammed. The group backed Mitt Romney in 2012, but also aired pro-Santorum ads that cycle as well. The group says it is a “nationwide buy” and that it's the “first step in a multi-million dollar effort to ensure Donald Trump is not our next president.” The ads feature a retirees and a single mom that both say were “duped” by The Donald.

5. Club for Growth

The Club for Growth says it is the first third-party group to spend significant amounts of money to try and stop Trump. They invested $1 million, per the group, in an anti-Trump campaign in Iowa before the caucuses. It has a new ad, which is airing across Florida cable television and online, and hits Trump for his use of eminent domain and his bankruptcy filings. The narrator says, “Trump picks on workers and widows. He won’t do a thing to China and Mexico.” The new ad is part of a $1.5 million campaign in Florida.