Jun 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Republican operatives launch pro-Biden super PAC

 Former Vice President Joe Biden gestures during a campaign rally at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Michigan on March 9, 2020.
Former Vice President Joe Biden at a campaign rally on March 9, 2020. Photo: Mandel Nga/ AFP

A group of prominent Republican operatives that includes former officials from the Trump and George W. Bush administrations are launching a super PAC to turn out GOP voters for Joe Biden in November, organizers tell Axios.

Details: The "Right Side PAC" aims to identify former Trump supporters across the country who have cooled to the president's approach in office and convince them to vote for Biden, says founder Matt Borges, a former chairman of the Ohio Republican Party.

  • Anthony Scaramucci, who was fired after 10 days as Trump's communications director and later turned on the president, also is part of the effort.

How it works: The PAC will initially target voters in the battleground states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Carolina and Florida.

  • They'll use digital, mail and telephone to reach voters. They'll encourage absentee voting. They do not have plans to run TV ads.
  • It's getting help from a few dozen operatives, including alums of Bush and the late Sen. John McCain's presidential campaigns.
  • They'll lay out Biden's record on free trade, states' rights, federal spending and respecting U.S. diplomatic and military alliances — and highlight his Catholic faith — to make the case that most anti-Trump Republicans can feel comfortable supporting him.
  • The group intends to rely heavily on major donors.
  • More detail on its backers should come out with its first Federal Election Commission filing in mid-July.

Between the lines: The group sees itself as a complement to The Lincoln Project, the anti-Trump group led by George Conway (husband of Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway) and several prominent GOP operatives.

  • The Lincoln Project is more focused on TV ads and broader messaging, while Right Side will concentrate more on data and individualized turnout, Borges said. "We're going to dig into the data and find out where these voters are and try to help turn them out."
  • A similar group, Republican Voters Against Trump, which launched in May, is also focused on getting white, college-educated Republican voters in the suburbs to vote for Biden.

What they're saying: "We want to take an opportunity to kind of reset things," Borges says. "And the first way to do that is cut out the cancer and start rebuilding."

  • "We're not trying to become Democrats," Borges says. "I intend to vote for every other Republican on the ballot. And I expect that there are others like me who aren't looking to leave the party."
  • Scaramucci says he's "very confident that we can convince a large group of Republican voters that Biden is the right person to vote for if they want to stay true to their principles and to the legacy of the Republican Party."
  • Defeating Trump "will be a very necessary part of the reorganization and the regrowth of the Republican Party," while if he's reelected "he may set the Republican Party up to be a minority party for a generation," Scaramucci says.

Behind the scenes: During the crowded Democratic primary, Borges says he and other GOP operatives set about identifying disaffected Republicans who might be eligible and willing to cast primary votes for Biden.

  • “What that did more than anything else was sort of open our eyes to the opportunities that are out there," he said.
  • Borges says he “would never” be doing this if Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren were the Democratic nominee.
  • He says anti-Trump GOP organizations are "sprouting up all over the place" but generally lack the focus on voter targeting and turnout — areas in which he says his group has deep expertise.

Don't forget: Borges, who worked on several presidential campaigns and chaired the Ohio GOP from 2013-17, clashed publicly with Trump during the 2016 campaign.

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