US Elections 2016

Iraq war veteran mooted as alternative candidate

Mr French wrote in a recent column that Mr Trump as president might get some things right but others catastrophically wrong.
Mr French wrote in a recent column that Mr Trump as president might get some things right but others catastrophically wrong.

Anti-Trump movement picks Bronze Star recipient who is also a right-wing writer

WASHINGTON • Right-wing writer, lawyer and Iraq war veteran David French has been suggested by a leader of the conservative anti- Trump movement as an alternative candidate in the United States' November presidential election.

The editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, Mr Bill Kristol, has recently expressed disappointment that Mr Trump has probably secured the Republican nomination and said he has been searching for an alternative candidate. His magazine's current issue names Mr French as his preferred choice.

Mr French, who lives in Tennessee, is a staff writer with right-wing publication National Review, as well as practising law - concentrating in constitutional law and the law of armed conflict, according to his biography on the magazine's website. He is also an Iraq war veteran and a Bronze Star recipient.

His columns in recent editions of National Review have been highly critical of Mr Trump. He wrote in the May 24 edition that Mr Trump as president might get some things right but others catastrophically wrong.

"It is certain that he is dishonest, ignorant of foreign and domestic affairs (and often even of basic civics), and deals in the most vicious personal attacks. Add these things together, and he's not just a ticking time bomb - he's a walking impeachment risk," Mr French wrote.

Speaking from Israel on Tuesday Mr Kristol, who is a one-time Reagan administration official - declined to comment, but two influential Republicans close to him, speaking anonymously, said that Mr French is open to launching a bid and that some conservative donors look favourably on the prospect of Mr French entering the race.

Mr French yesterday tweeted "I'm incredibly humbled by and grateful for the many expressions of support - thank you" but stopped short of agreeing to run.

Ever since Mr Kristol tweeted on Sunday that an "impressive" independent candidate "with a strong team and a real chance" is now prepared to enter the presidential fray, the US political world has been engaged in a fevered guessing game over who that person might be.

Then Mr Kristol wrote in the Standard's June 6 issue that "the fact of Trump's and (Hillary) Clinton's unfitness for the Oval Office has become so self-evident that it's no longer clear one needs a famous figure to provide an alternative".

After mentioning former candidate Mitt Romney and several other politicians, Mr Kristol highlighted Mr French's name: "To say that he would be a better and a more responsible president than Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is to state a truth that would become self-evident as more Americans got to know him."

The Washington Post on Tuesday called a French campaign a "quixotic endeavour" that could draw pockets of Republican voters away from Mr Trump.

The Post said Mr French joining the presidential race would face steep logistical and financial hurdles, with many states' ballot deadlines rapidly approaching.

Mr Trump has dismissed Mr Kristol's attempts to put up a rival conservative candidate.

"Bill Kristol is a loser," Mr Trump said on Tuesday. "His magazine is failing, as you know. It's going to be down - I don't think it even survives. He's getting some free publicity."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2016, with the headline 'Iraq war veteran mooted as alternative candidate'. Print Edition | Subscribe