Former Romney Adviser on Trump Alternative: 'Until Donald Trump Has the Nomination…All Things Are Possible'

"The convention could go in a different direction," says Stuart Stevens.

ByNOAH FITZGEREL
June 24, 2016, 5:01 AM

— -- There remain deep rumblings inside the establishment of the Republican Party about presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. This week’s episode of ABC’s "Powerhouse Politics" podcast paints a picture in which the Republican National Committee may focus its efforts on down-ticket races to hedge the risk of losing the White House in November to presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, leaving a Trump operation with little infrastructure of its own scrambling to catch up.

Noting the frustration that has endured in several Republican circles with the party’s presumptive nominee, Stuart Stevens, a former adviser to Mitt Romney and an outspoken member of the Never Trump movement, said that there is "still a possibility that the convention could go in a different direction." Stevens noted, "Until Donald Trump has the nomination, one thing we've learned with Donald Trump is that all things are possible."

Stevens said that this sort of political frustration exists in the Democratic Party as well. "There's clearly a desire for an alternative in both parties," Stevens said while referring to recent poll numbers. Speaking of a possible third-party alternative to Donald Trump, Stevens said, "I think choice is good...If someone’s there and he’s credible, or she’s credible...“I think that would be positive.”

Stevens shared his take on the effect of the Trump campaign on the American electorate, saying that “The underlying reality of Donald Trump’s campaign is his continual appeal not to the best of us, but in many ways the worst of us. He’s the anti-Ronald Reagan, the anti-John Kennedy.” “He’s a grievance monger,” Stevens continued. “His appeal I think is he’s the guy who’s gonna settle the score.”

Mark Leibovich of the New York Times Magazine also joined the podcast, discussing his upcoming cover story on Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Leibovich discussed the emerging tensions between the Trump campaign and the Republican Party. "Trump needs the RNC pretty badly right now," Leibovich said. He's "outsourced a great deal of his campaign to them." As a result, Leibovich noted that the RNC "has a fair amount of leverage now." If the party and the Trump campaign do not get along, Leibovich noted, the party could shift its time and energy to winning down-ticket races.

Leibovich also shared insight from his conversations with Republican insiders who seem to be preparing for a loss at the top of the ticket. “What I sense now is not so much soul searching as almost a pre-autopsy," Leibovich said. Leibovich said that he has spoken with several Republicans "expecting to lose, or sort of looking, what could happen after Trump loses if he loses."

ABC News Political Director Rick Klein and Deputy Political Director Shushannah Walshe also discussed some of the week's political headlines, including House Democrats’ recent sit-in and the chaos inside the Trump campaign wrought by the termination of former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and a poor showing from the campaign according to recent FEC filings.

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