Bill Kristol receptive to meeting Nikki Haley in a ‘secret, dark basement’ to discuss 2020 run against Trump

Outspoken “Never Trump” critic Bill Kristol is looking to “lay the groundwork” to find a Republican challenger to face President Donald Trump in a 2020 primary.

And he has his eyes on Nikki Haley.

The editor at large of The Weekly Standard spun a daydream about meeting up with the outgoing U.N. ambassador during a discussion with MSNBC anchor Brian Williams.

Haley announced her resignation last month and has indicated that she plans to campaign for Trump in his 2020 reelection bid. But Kristol is undeterred by that fact.

“Do you think a part of Nikki Haley would be receptive in meeting with Bill Kristol and hearing you out?” Williams asked the Trump critic after discussing the “exodus” of administration officials they believed likely after the 2018 midterm elections.

“I think she’d be happy to have lunch, but maybe just coffee, not a full lunch, you know, in a very secret place, in a very dark basement somewhere in New York,” Kristol mused.

“I think people will look and will have to raise the question, ‘Do they want to renominate Donald Trump in 2020?’ We’ll see, of course, what happens over the next year,” Kristol, who served under Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, continued.

“But I personally would try to lay the groundwork for a primary challenge. I don’t know that Nikki Haley or some one else will pick up the mantle. It’s been done before,” he added. “And as I say, Tuesday will be an important moment where people start looking forward after Tuesday and asking ‘Do we want an additional four years of Donald Trump defining the Republican Party?’”

Kristol, who opposed Trump out of the starting gate and slammed his “America First” approach as “vulgar, has launched a nonprofit organization, Defending Democracy Together, to find a GOP candidate to run against Trump in 2020.

There was speculation a few months back that the so-called “conservative” commentator might himself be running for president in 2020, a suggestion that prompted White House counselor Kellyanne Conway to quip, “Of this country?”

“What we are doing is laying the groundwork and showing there’s a path and helping create that path for anyone who chooses to run. That decision is obviously up to them,” Kristol told CNBC, explaining his interest in Haley.

“The advantage she has is that, while she’s clearly different from Trump, she’s worked with him. She’s impressive,” he said.

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Frieda Powers

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