the Lincoln project
December 23, 2020

President Trump has turned against everyone he thinks isn't fighting to keep him in office after he lost the Nov. 3 election, according to several reports and Trump tweets. And among those the president considers insufficiently loyal is Vice President Mike Pence, Axios reports. "A source who spoke to Trump said the president was complaining about Pence and brought up a Lincoln Project ad that claims that Pence is 'backing away' from Trump. This ad has clearly got inside Trump's head, the source said," per Axios.

Some of the Lincoln Project's ads are explicitly aimed at getting inside Trump's head, and one spot about former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale reportedly helped lead to Parscale's ouster. Pence appears to be taking Trump's feelings seriously. Trump can't fire Pence, but "the vice president does not want to leave on bad terms with the president, I can assure you that," an administration official with knowledge of Pence's thinking told The Washington Post.

When Pence addressed the pro-Trump group Turning Point USA in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Tuesday, he fed them "the mirage that the election fight was not yet over," the Post reports. "As our election contest continues, I'll make you a promise: We're going to keep fighting until every legal vote is counted," Pence said. "We're going to win Georgia, we're going to save America, and we'll never stop fighting to make America great again." Trump's loss in Georgia has already been affirmed several times, including after both a hand recount and a machine recount.

The big challenge for Pence will be presiding over the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress that will ratify President-elect Biden's electoral victory. "Pence's role on Jan. 6 has begun to loom large in Trump's mind," Axios reports. "Trump would view Pence performing his constitutional duty — and validating the election result — as the ultimate betrayal." Pence and his advisers "have begun thinking about how to handle Jan. 6 and escape Trump's ire, but no final decisions have been made," the Post adds. Peter Weber

October 20, 2020

He campaigned against Vice President Joe Biden, but former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is backing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Steele, a lifelong Republican, joined The Lincoln Project in August as a senior adviser, and in a new ad released by the anti-Trump group on Tuesday, Steele officially endorsed Biden for president.

The video begins with Steele discussing a plot in 1861 to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln on his way to the inauguration. That would have plunged the country into "chaos," Steele says, but instead Lincoln safely made it to D.C. and "onto greatness."

"In the days ahead, we may face a crisis of similar proportion," Steele continues. "An outlaw president clinging to power and defying the will of the people. For four years, many have said there will come a moment — well, this is the moment, because this ballot is like none ever cast."

Steele said while he remains a Republican, "this ballot is how we restore the soul of our nation: electing a good man, Joe Biden, and a trailblazer, Kamala Harris, and ensure an orderly transfer of power, or plunge our country into chaos. America or Trump. I choose America." Catherine Garcia

October 6, 2020

President Trump, true story, is a big fan of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Evita. The Republicans behind the Lincoln Project are fans of poking Trump. And the president's theatrical return to the White House from Walter Reed hospital on Monday night was so over-the-top and autocracy-adjacent that this ad, joining the two amusements, probably all but wrote itself. (It did not sing itself, however, and kudos to the vocalist who brings Covita to life.)

If Weird Al Yankovic can do semi-serious original political commentary in The New York Times, it seems fair that a serious super-PAC can pull a Weird Al. And if you think it unfair or unkind to use something Trump loves against him, it isn't the first time "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" has been used to mock Trump, even in the past two years. And, let's be honest, the Lincoln Project could easily have gone much darker. Peter Weber

September 29, 2020

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who often plays a hero in the movies, endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden over the weekend, and on Tuesday morning, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, a real-life hero played by Tom Hanks in a movie, urged America to vote President Trump out.

Sullenberger, who famously landed an airliner on the Hudson River in 2009, said in 2018 that while he had been a Republican for "the first 85 percent of my adult life," he was urging voters that year to choose "leaders committed to rebuilding our common values," not the "cowardly, complicit enablers" who were "acting against the interests of the United States, our allies, and democracy." Biden evidently fits in his "common values" camp.

"From my service as an Air Force officer and a fighter pilot, I knew that serving a cause greater than oneself is the highest calling," Sully said in an ad for VoteVets and The Lincoln Project. "And it's in that highest calling of leadership that Donald Trump has failed us so miserably. Now, it's up to us to overcome his attacks on our very democracy, knowing nearly a quarter million Americans won't have a voice — casualties of his lethal lies and incompetence. Eleven years ago I was called to my moment. Now we are all called to this moment."

"We are in control of this nation's destiny," Sullenberger said. "All we have to do is vote him out." Peter Weber

September 8, 2020

After The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg relayed some politically toxic comments President Trump allegedly made about U.S. service members captured or killed in battle — comments confirmed to Fox News, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Associated Press, and CNN, in part or whole — it was just a matter of time before the anti-Trump Republicans at the Lincoln Project turned them into an ad. That ad dropped Tuesday evening, and it relied less on Trump's purported comments than on ones he has made in public, plus his own documented actions (or lack of action, notably).

Per custom, the Lincoln Project does not pull its punches in the "Fallen Heroes" ad. "Donald Trump is a draft dodger, a dishonorable coward unfit to be commander in chief," the narrator begins. Trump's comments about two Republican stalwarts, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former President George H.W. Bush, make up a large part of the rest of the 2-minute ad. His alleged comments about U.S. Marines killed in World War I France being "losers" and "suckers" get a mention, of course, and the final line turns the "loser" line back on Trump: "On Nov. 3, it's time to throw this loser coward out of our White House."

The focus on GOP leaders and military heroism suggests the ad is aimed at similarly Trump-skeptical Republicans. But a lot of the Lincoln Project's advertising is also aimed at an audience of one, and if that is the case, "loser coward" is the intended coup de grâce. Peter Weber

September 6, 2020

Michael Steele, the first Black chair of the Republican National Committee and recent high-profile addition for the Lincoln Project, still harbors a lot of resentment for the Republican Party over its role in allowing President Trump to come to power, he revealed in an interview published by The Guardian on Sunday.

Steele is still a Republican, and he joined the anti-Trump, conservative Lincoln Project, out of principle, he said, adding that he considers his fellow Republicans who back the president to be "collaborators." While Steele expressed anger at the GOP's "capitulation" to Trump, he also seemed confused as to how it all unfolded, adding that if he was still chairing the RNC (he left the position in 2011) "it damn sure wouldn't have happened ... and people in this party know that's true."

He said that, going forward, Republicans will "need to explain why they allowed Donald Trump to crap all over their plans to build out the party after they lost the 2012 election," referring to the GOP's determination to appeal to young voters, women, and minorities after Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) was defeated by former President Barack Obama that year. Read more of Steele's perspective on the Republican Party at The Guardian. Tim O'Donnell

August 30, 2020

The NBA went on strike for a couple of days last week in response to the police shooting of yet another unarmed Black American, Jacob Blake. Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers put the shooting into a broader political context on Tuesday, and The Lincoln Project turned his comments into a political ad released Sunday. But they didn't do much, just adding some background music and images from the Republican National Convention and America in 2020 and letting Rivers do all the talking.

"It's just so sad, just watching the Republican convention, and they're spewing this fear," Rivers said. "Donald Trump and all of them, talking about fear. We're the ones getting killed, we're the ones getting shot. All you do is keep hearing about fear. It's amazing to me why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back."

"You don't need to be black to be outraged," Rivers said, and The Lincoln Project highlighted. "You need to be American and outraged." Peter Weber

August 25, 2020

Michael Steele once served as chairman of the Republican National Committee, and now, he's committed to ensuring that the party's presidential nominee doesn't win in November.

Steele announced on Monday that he has joined the Lincoln Project, an organization founded by conservatives that aims to keep President Trump from being re-elected in November. Steele told MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace that "today is the day where things should matter and you need to take stock of what matters to you — and the kind of leader you want to lead in these moments. And for me, it ain't him."

Steele, the first Black chairman of the RNC, left the position in 2011, and said while he understands his role as "a former party leader," he is "still an American, and these things matter to me more than aligning myself with a party that has clearly decided it would rather be sycophantic than principled." Tara Setmayer, a senior adviser to the Lincoln Project, told CNN in a statement that Steele's decision to join the group's "efforts to oust Trump and his enablers is a big deal. It's truly 'country over party' personified." Catherine Garcia

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