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Inside No Labels decision to plow ahead with choosing presidential candidates

Leaders
of
the
moderate
group
No
Labels
decided
Friday
in
a
Zoom
call
with
hundreds
of
supporters
to
move
forward
with
selecting
candidates
for
a
third-party
ticket
that
would
challenge
both

President
Biden

and
former
president

Donald
Trump

in
November.

There
was
no
discussion
on
the
call
of
specific
potential
candidates,
a
critical
piece
of
the
puzzle
that
the
group
has
not
yet
clarified.
The
group’s
leaders
said
they
would
announce
a
selection
process
for
presidential
candidates
March
14,
with
a
possible
convention
to
be
held
virtually
no
later
than
early
April
with
as
little
as
48
hours
notice.

“It
is
possible
in
the
end
we
won’t
find
suitable
candidates.
We
all
realize
that,”
said
Mike
Rawlings,
a
former
Dallas
mayor
and
CEO
of
Pizza
Hut,
who
ran
the
call
and
is
overseeing
the
convention
process.
“We
have
always
said
it
is
going
to
take
a
lot
of
courage
to
do
this.

We
are
not
just
going
to
settle
for
anyone.”

The
decision
marks
a
setback
for
Biden
allies
who

have
been
working
furiously
for
months
to
discourage

the
group
and
any
potential
candidates
from
plowing
ahead
with
a
project
that
they
fear
will
help
Trump
at
the
polls.

Rawlings
said
there
were
832
delegates
from
all
50
states
on
the
call.
The
assembled
group
voted
electronically
on
the
question
of
“Should
No
Labels
move
forward
in
conversation
with
potential
candidates
for
the
unity
presidential
ticket?”

Rawlings
said
the
result
was
one
short
of
a
unanimous
“yes”
vote,
though
he
did
not
provide
the
specific
total.

“Now
we
have
formally
made
a
decision
that
we
are
going
to
go
forward,”
Rawlings
said.
“Once
this
process
is
revealed
we
are
going
to
be
moving
quickly
sometime
after
March
14.”

He
said
a
convention
would
happen
virtually
after
that
date.
“You
may
only
have
48
hours,”
he
told
the
other
delegates,
talking
about
the
time
between
scheduling
the
virtual
convention
and
holding
it.

Preselected
speakers
from
four
regions
spoke
to
the
group,
each
voicing
unanimous
or
near-unanimous
support
from
No
Labels
supporters
in
their
area
to
pursue
the
nomination.
They
summarized
separate
phone
calls
that
had
been
held
among
regional
No
Labels
groups.
One
person
evoked
the
recent
disappointment
among
some
voters
that
former
South
Carolina
governor

Nikki
Haley

had
bowed
out
of
the
Republican
nomination
fight.

“Nikki
Haley
voters
and
common
sense
voters,
they
are
without
a
political
home
and
they
need
somewhere
to
go,”
said
Dan
DuPraw,
a
delegate
from
Pennsylvania,
representing
the
Northeast.

‘We
have
to
be
in
it
to
win
it’
is
the
consensus
for
our
region.”

A
delegate
from
New
Hampshire,
Lyn
Leddy,
said
her
group
was
also
supportive
of
the
effort,
adding
that
supporters
trusted
that
No
Labels
would
bow
out
if
polling
showed
that
the
effort
would
“be
a
spoiler.”

“People
feel
very
good
about
that,”
she
said.

“There
is
conviction
that
we
can
do
better,
that
we
must
do
better,
that
we
need
to
move
forward
with
this
unity
ticket
for
the
good
of
the
country,”
said
Idaho
delegate
Patty
Leasure.

Before
the
meeting
began,
the
group
played
the

“No
Labels
Anthem,”
by
Akon
,
a
song
that
was
recorded
in
2010
for
the
group.
“Put
your
differences
aside,
man,
if
you
can,”
sings
the
Senegalese
American
singer
known
for
the
2006
hit
“Smack
That.”

‘Cause
there’s
way
too
many
people
suffering.”

Several
political
leaders
who
had
entertained
the
possibility
of
running
on
the
No
Labels
ticket
have
announced
in
recent
months
that
they
will
not
join
the
effort,
including
Sen.
Joe
Manchin
III
(D-W.Va.)
and
former
Maryland
governor
Larry
Hogan
(R),
who
is
running
for
the
U.S.
Senate
as
a
Republican.

Former
New
Jersey
Gov.

Chris
Christie

(R)
has
recently
left
open
the
possibility
of
heading
a
No
Labels
ticket
after
calling
the
effort
“a
fool’s
errand”
last
summer
when
he
was

running
for
president

as
a
Republican.
Haley,
who
has
not
endorsed
Trump,
has
repeatedly
ruled
out
participating
in
a
third-party
bid.

Without
a
candidate
in
the
offing
or
clear
polling
showing
a
path
to
electoral
college
victory,
No
Labels
has
struggled
for
months
to
come
up
with
a
plan
for
finding
a
face
for
their
effort
or
crafting
a
public
process
to
make
the
selection.
The
initial
plan
for
an
in-person
nominating
convention
in
Texas
next
month
was
scrapped,
as
were
discussions
for
a
series
of
public
forums
in
which
potential
No
Labels
contenders
could
showcase
their
visions.

Part
of
the
challenge
is
the
unusual
structure
of
the
presidential
effort.
The
ballot
access
effort
is
being
run
by
a
nonprofit
based
in
Washington,
D.C.,
which
does
not
disclose
its
donors.
The
group
has
seeded
and
controls
a
number
of
state
operations
which
have
petitioned
for
ballot
access.
But
that
group
is
barred
by
law
from
funding
a
candidate
for
president,
and
without
a
candidate,
no
new
campaign
organization
has
been
created.

Another
independent
group,
New
Leaders
’24
PAC,
has
been
founded
by
California
Republican
strategist
Rob
Stutzman,
with
the
goal
of
raising
$300
million
to
support
the
eventual
nominees.
The
group
could
buy
ads
to
support
a
candidate,
but
it
is
barred
by
law
from
most
coordination
with
a
campaign.
In
recent
weeks,
it
has
sought
to
raise
smaller
amounts
of
money
through
a
separate
organization
that
could
seed
a
future
No
Labels
effort.

The
entire
enterprise
has
been
fiercely
opposed
by
an
aggressive
network
of
Democrats
and
anti-Trump
Republicans,
who
have
been
systematically
pressuring
potential
No
Labels
candidates
behind
the
scenes
to
stay
away,
while
attacking
the
effort
publicly
as
a
risky
gambit
that
would
help
elect
Trump.

No
Labels’
organizers
have
repeatedly
said
they
would
not
run
a
candidate,
or
would
pull
their
candidate
midsummer,
if
it
appeared
that
the
campaign
could
not
win
outright
and
would
help
elect
Trump.

Polling
of
unnamed
“moderate
independent
candidates”
has

yet
to
show

a
clear
path
for
winning
the
electoral
college
in
a
hypothetical
matchup
with
Trump
and
Biden.
But
without
named
candidates,
pollsters
and
political
strategists
say
such
polling
is
not
likely
to
be
predictive
of
a
November
election
result.

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