Election 2020

David French Announces His Decision About Running for President

Constitutional law expert, Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, and National Review staff writer David French announced on Sunday night that he will not run for president as an independent candidate. He wrote at National Review:

Here is a sentence I never thought I’d type: After days of prayer, reflection, and serious study of the possibilities, I am not going to run as an independent candidate for president of the United States. I gave it serious thought — as a pretty darn obscure lawyer, writer, and veteran — only because we live in historic times. Never before have both parties failed so spectacularly, producing two dishonest, deceitful candidates who should be disqualified from running for town council, much less leader of the free world.

French, whose name has been floated over the past week as a potential third-party candidate, went on to cite reasons he believes both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to be unfit for the presidency. While he said that it’s tempting to think that “someone” running against the pair would be better than no one, he believes the best chance for success goes to “a person who either is extraordinarily wealthy (or has immediate access to extraordinary wealth) or is a transformational political talent.”

French said, “I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve my country, and I thank God for the successes I’ve had as a lawyer and a writer, but it is plain to me that I’m not the right person for this effort.”

On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace seemed perplexed that French, a well-known conservative intellectual who was awarded a Bronze Star for his service in Iraq, had the audacity to even consider running. “I’ve never heard of him!” Wallace exclaimed to Karl Rove. “Have you ever heard of the guy?” (Maybe someone ought to send Wallace a subscription to National Review. Then perhaps he wouldn’t look like a deer in the headlights every time a conservative make a serious intellectual argument when he parrots his liberal “devil’s advocate” talking points.)

Karl Rove, who at least had the decency to say he’s enjoyed reading French’s columns at NR for years, seemed agitated and strenuously urged French not to run, saying that gaining ballot access would be impossible at this late date. 

French disagreed in his column tonight:

I spent the last several days with some of the best minds in politics. I learned that the ballot-access challenge can be met with modest effort (by an existing network ready to activate), that the polling for a true outsider independent was better than most people know, and that there are many, many Americans — including outstanding political talents — who are willing to quit their jobs — today — to help provide the American people with an alternative.

French said he believes the country is ready to “both resist the corruption, decadence, and dishonesty of the American elite and restore the promise of the American Dream.” But, he said, “that movement may not emerge for some time, and it might emerge only after further heartache and pain.”

He expressed his admiration for the “patriots” working to recruit an independent candidate and contrasted them to the GOP leadership that now “in lockstep marches to Trump’s beat.” While Reince Priebus has called the third-party effort “embarrassing,” French suggested that it’s more embarrassing to use “your God-given gifts and talents to advance the interests of a man who cares only for himself and who rejects the very values you’ve long claimed to uphold.”

“As I’ve written many times before, nations are built on virtue — and courage is indispensable. But there is also prudence, and it was simply not prudent for me to take on this task. I remain against Trump and against Hillary, but I will do all I can where I am.”

French is a decent, principled man, a war hero and a patriot, and I commend him for at least giving serious consideration to stepping up and serving his country at time when we’re in desperate need of men of virtue, courage, and intellect. Unfortunately, it’s very likely that we’ll go to the ballot in November to choose between a woman who is fundamentally dishonest and who will continue to advance Barack Obama’s radical policies, and a man who tells us in no uncertain terms that he will also advance the progressive agenda, all while further dividing our country and mucking up our foreign policy. It’s a Solomonic splitting of the baby choice that many of us cannot and will not make come November.