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The battle of Thermopylae it is not, but 300 Never Trumpers plan to make their last stand against Trump at a Utah summit hosted by none other than failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
The defeated 2012 GOP candidate will play host as the “Experts and Enthusiasts Summit,” or “E2,” kicks off Thursday at the Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley in Park City, Utah, according to The Washington Post.
Though not designed as an actual “stop Trump” event, the many seminars and gatherings over the three days with Republican elites will no doubt be focused on the presumptive GOP nominee. With the party divided and worried about Trump’s electability, the E2 summit provides the environment for Republican business and political leaders to discuss alternatives or life in a post-Trump era if he loses the general election to Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Republican elites retreat to a Trump-safe space: Mitt Romney’s place#GOP acting lk childrenhttps://t.co/eNdDAPwJOp pic.twitter.com/attMm6tNf8
— Kristin Billitere (@SpecialKMB1969) June 9, 2016
With only about 300 people expected to be in attendance, some on the guest list include both Trump’s allies and others who are not supportive of the billionaire.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, some of Trump’s top fundraisers, and endorsers such as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) will be joined by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who lost to Trump in this campaign, according to the Post. Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.) and Ben Sasse (Neb.), an outspoken Trump critic are also on the guest list along with Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Rep. Trey Gowdy (S.C.).
“I am not expecting we will sit by the campfire singing ‘We Shall Overcome’ and group-hugging,” GOP strategist Ana Navarro, a Trump critic, told the Post. “Mitt Romney and other like-minded leaders can have a big influence on the reconstruction of the post-Trump Republican Party. We need to start those conversations now.”
GOP strategist John Weaver believes the Romney gathering will not deliver a solution to the Trump dilemma. “Some of them will have chardonnay, some will have spring water, they’ll wring their hands, they’ll bemoan the state of the party and then they’ll leave,” he said.
Many Republicans have looked hopefully to Romney to present the alternative for a party they feel has been hijacked by Trump. But the former Massachusetts governor has refused to run again.
“We’re at the point now where Mitt is the last dog in this fight who can run a credible third-party effort,” said Republican strategist Rick Wilson. “There will be tremendous pressure on him.”
Romney will reportedly speak in a closed-door session with no plans to give media interviews. “He’s trying to not make this full of drama on purpose,” Romney adviser and friend, Ron Kaufman, said.
But national finance co-chairman of Romney’s campaigns John Rakolta Jr. is looking forward to “intellectual tension” over the three days in Utah, according to the Post.
“The politics will be sort of a sideshow, because frankly that’s what it is,” Rakolta said. “The whole thing is a sideshow.”
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