- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 29, 2016

A conservative, third-party run by 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney or another Republican would be a “complete disaster” and ensure victory for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, one of Donald Trump’s top aides said Sunday.

Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said that Mr. Romney is a “failed candidate” who would fall short again should he launch a third presidential bid, and that Mr. Trump will rise above doubters who have chafed at his outspoken and unconventional campaign.

“A third-party run by any candidate is a complete disaster and you’re handing the White House to the Democrats, which means four or five potential U.S. Supreme Court justices that Hillary Clinton would have a chance to appoint,” Mr. Lewandowski told “Fox News Sunday.” “If she does that, you can say goodbye to the Second Amendment amongst other things, right? You can say goodbye to your rights.”

Mr. Trump himself has been more strident in his attacks on Mr. Romney, saying he “choked like a dog” against President Obama in 2012.

Early in this year’s GOP primary, the Republican establishment worried that Mr. Trump would mount a third-party campaign and ensure a Democratic victory. The Republican National Committee was so worried that it asked each of its candidates to sign a pledge of support for the eventual nominee.

Now that Mr. Trump has cleared the GOP field, that narrative has been turned on its head, with ranks of the “Never Trump” movement still wishing for an alternative to their blunt-spoken standard-bearer.

No prominent conservatives have stepped forward, and the Libertarian Party seems to be the only faction eyeing a bid to shake up the two-party race in a topsy-turvy election year.

Mr. Lewandowski said Republican members of Congress and other branches of the party will rally behind Mr. Trump because they face a “binary” choice between the real estate mogul and Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic front-runner who is trying to stave off her challenger, Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders.

“The bottom line is, Donald Trump is now the head of the Republican Party as the Republican nominee,” he said.

Even so, Mr. Trump still hasn’t won the endorsement of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who is uncertain about the billionaire businessman’s commitment to conservative principles.

Mr. Lewandowski said that relationship will develop, and that both men agree on many things.

Mr. Trump also raised eyebrows last week by saying New Mexico Gov. Susanna Martinez, a Republican and the country’s first elected Hispanic female governor, has to do a better job.

Though the Republican Governors Association and others rallied to her defense, the Trump camp said the media’s reaction to the candidate’s comments at an Albuquerque rally were overblown.

“What you have here is there’s no attack on a Latino or a woman governor,” Mr. Lewandowski said. “What this was, was laying out the economic perspective of what the state of New Mexico was doing and he’s saying we need to do a better job. That’s what our country needs, is we need to create jobs, we need to have more people back to work, we need to build a wall, we need to stop illegal immigration.”

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