Joe Henderson: Anti-Trump Lincoln Project founders set sights on Marco Rubio, Ron DeSantis
Marco Rubio. Image via AP.

Buckle up.

The creative and vicious Republican minds behind the Lincoln Project have a message for Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio: You’re next.

Buckle up.

When they finish with President Donald Trump, the group of conservative never-Trumpers hope to knock that pair out of office two years from now, along with any Republican who enables the President.

“We burned our boats and our bridges when we did this. There’s no going back here. We have announced what we are doing, we said we wanted to be part of a grand coalition that dispatched Trump and Trumpism. People forgot about the Trumpism part,” said John Weaver, a founder of the Lincoln Project, speaking with Craig Melvin on MSNBC.

To accomplish that, Weaver said Trump supporters in the U.S. Senate and statehouses should expect to be targeted.

“If we are so fortunate that we get rid of the main zombie, there are still all these other zombies that are going to be running around the body politic,” he said.

“(That includes) these MAGA governors in Florida, and Texas, and Georgia, and Arizona. They were so afraid of offending the President that they were literally willing to sacrifice their citizens as opposed to doing the right thing with the COVID pandemic.”

In Rubio’s case, the attack has already started. His name and photo appeared, along with several other GOP senators, in a blistering ad that super-glues him to Trump.

Every time they were called to the service of this nation and their sacred oath, they chose Trump. Every time,” the ad said. “Learn their names. Remember their actions.”

Over the weekend, a Lincoln Project tweet showed Trump in the Oval Office with a dog on a leash.

The dog’s name? Marco Rubio.

While there is some speculation Rubio might not run in 2022 — he does like to keep people guessing — there is no such talk about DeSantis.

Not long ago he had some of the highest approval ratings in the nation but lost much of that political capital over how he has handled – or mishandled if you prefer – the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lincoln Project’s game plan will be simple: define him to voters as an utter failure.

There are lots of PACs on the landscape with deep pockets, but few have the same far-reaching goals as the Lincoln Project. The group’s founders include veteran GOP operatives Weaver, George Conway, Steve Schmidt, and Rick Wilson.

By the end of June, it had raised nearly $20 million and has about half of that left. Weaver said much of the funding comes from small donations of $50 to $100. They quickly react to the news cycle with rapidly produced, no-holds-barred direct attacks on Trump, often hanging him with his own words.

The barrage is relentless.

If Trump loses, other Trumpist Republicans can expect the same the next time their name is on the ballot.

It won’t be pretty.

“We’ve got a lot of work in front of us,” Weaver said. “I understand why some groups would be anxious or nervous that we’re somehow going to turn on them. But do they honestly think that after trying to dispatch Donald Trump and taking on our own (Republican) senators, we can go back to Donald Trump Jr. or something?

“I mean, what the hell? We’re here.”

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Marla

    July 21, 2020 at 6:37 am

    So, is everyone in the Lincoln Project surrendering their conservative principles and joining the Democrat Party? Because that’s what it sounds like to me and to a lot of other people who, while refusing to support Trump and Trumpism, are still ideologically conservative.

    • Tjb

      July 21, 2020 at 10:09 am

      They are not leaders, they are trump’s puppets vomiting the lies and hated spewing from the White House.

    • Daniel Tourtillott

      July 21, 2020 at 10:07 pm

      Trump destroyed conservatism by conflating it with what the hell is going on.

      I’m voting D all the way down.
      The Republican Party left me

      • Jd

        July 22, 2020 at 7:22 pm

        You probably suck d all the way also…Rick Wilson won’t be around in november

    • paulrandall

      July 30, 2020 at 9:42 am

      Conservatism has been exposed as a fraud and is finished as a political force in America.

  • S.B. Anthony

    July 21, 2020 at 8:06 am

    Go for it, Lincoln Project! Shine the light on these two disasters and help Florida rid itself of these vermin. Expose them for what they are – self-serving feckless toadies without regard for the health, safety, and welfare of Floridians. Can’t wait to see your excellent ads and hope they flood social media and our airwaves! #FLORIDAMORONS need to be educated despite their willful ignorance and self-destructive tendencies.

    • acallforjustice

      July 21, 2020 at 12:36 pm

      I so agree with you.

  • BlueHeron

    July 21, 2020 at 10:10 am

    The Lincoln Project are/were Republicans. Well placed, intelligent, experienced and who are able to create amazingly powerful ads against the President, Senators and others who are the rotten fruit from the rotten fruit tree.Trump is not a Republican or Conservative. He’s a Trumplican”.They never drank the kool-aid and maybe, they are probably all still Republicans in their hearts. But they have made no bones about the fact that the current Repub party is all about Trump and nothing else and it is not a problem for them to openly SUPPORT Biden and the races of so many other Senate D’s and other races. Vote for Dems for a few cycles, see how it goes. As Republicans, they know how to do an ad and it’s a masterclass. They know the soft underbelly of Trump and other R’s. Dems can’t do these kind of ads. The impact is more powerful coming from R’s. Biden and the D’s will run their campaign and so far, so good.

    I, for one, am very glad they are on our side. This is all hands on deck. The enemy of our enemy, perhaps.
    Check them out on YouTube.


    July 21, 2020 at 11:08 am


    Remember a stable nation?
    Remember the interweaving of the 2parties?
    Remember your pride in Just THAT?

    WE USED TO HAVE AN AMERICA THAT WE WERE PRIDE OF!!!then along came the monster whose choice was to tear us apart, ally us with Russia. goals:

    2. start looking forward to the joy of a growing , healthy group of citizens who know they can do that with all of us in possession of their faculties! And our hearts in the right place!


    July 21, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    The enemy of my enemy is my friend! You’d have to go a long way to find more Trumpist lickspittels than Ron DeSantis, Marco Rubio, and Rick Scott. All three are vermin living on the fabric of American democracy and sucking the blood out of the very people they were elected to represent. All three are little more than Trumpist tribal ogres!


  • Ken

    July 21, 2020 at 5:16 pm

    I can only smile at this. Not sure how hard I want the pendulum to swing politically but I’m ready. I don’t think I will have the stomach to vote for any Republican (Mitt’s not an option in Brevard) and I have supported Rubio in the past. I had some hope for DeSantis at first. I worked for Rick Scott and I wouldn’t follow him anywhere. OMG it will pain me to vote straight D.

    • Daniel Tourtillott

      July 21, 2020 at 10:04 pm

      I hear ya I’ve never voted D before but trump has gone too far.
      I miss normal republicans

  • LeAnn Weiss-Rupard

    July 23, 2020 at 2:06 am

    We want to get rid of the Lincoln Project. How dare you use the name of our party founder. Lincoln would never agree with your liberal policies. You are fradulant. We support Marco and DeSantis. Your money is coming from liberals and Bush sore losers and Never Trumper consultants who are profitting financially. Do us a favor and leave our party. Conservatives love Trump, not swamp monsters like you who try to trick people with a name that does NOT represent your lack of values or your pathetic policies.

  • Joe Henderson

    July 27, 2020 at 10:48 am

    Good to come across this insightful piece by my namesake. Keep it up! You’re giving us a good name!

Comments are closed.


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