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Photo Credit: Donkey Hotey (Creative Commons)

Stung by a surging Tea Party movement, liberal Republicans and Democrats associated with Hillary Clinton are privately planning to form a “centrist” third party in time for the 2012 election. Political insiders believe if Barack Obama remains unpopular next year and the Republican nominee believes in small government conservatism, an independent run may be their best bet to keep the presidency, and one or both political parties, in their hands. It is further evidence some RINOs would rather wreck the Republican Party and let Barack Obama cruise to a second term than share “their” party with its grassroots activists.

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Their likely beneficiary is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent who considered throwing his hat in the ring in 2008. The multibillionaire’s financial heft – and that alone – makes him a viable national player.

The structure is already in place for the RINOs and PUMAs to coalesce in two years. At least two separate organizations have the capacity to put a spoiler on 50 state ballots.

Fmr. Bush Advsiors Plot “A Third Party in 2012”

The more visible of these is No Labels, whose motto is: “Not Left. Not Right. Forward.” Despite its plea to restore “civility” and oppose extremists in both parties, No Labels seems almost exclusively focused on convincing Republicans to assent to “progressive” measures. (See below.) Fronted by former Bush advisor Mark McKinnon, Michael Bloomberg, Joe Scarborough, and others, its formal public launch will be held December 13 in New York City (of course). Its organizers protest this is “neither a third party nor a stalking horse for any presidential candidate or other candidates.” Its website insists, “No Labels is not interested in encouraging the development of a third party.”

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However, in private, its leaders sing a different tune. Mark McKinnon, a longtime advisor to George W. Bush, told David Frum that he knows “some smart people working behind the scenes” working “to resolve ballot access issues and make it easier for a third party to happen.” In an October 22 speech to the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, McKinnon admitted “something very exciting” was coming: “A third party in 2012.” An unsuccessful candidate who showed up at No Labels’ New Hampshire road show, Peter Angerhofer practically begged attendees to admit they were forming a minor party. “If you want to create a third party and carve out the middle, that might work,” Angerhofer offered, “but be clear about it.” The St. Louis Business Journal straightforwardly described the group as “a new third party movement.”

The second organization, Americans Elect, is more open about its aims but less well-known. Previously calling itself Unity ’12, and still earlier Unity ’08, Americans Elect plans to “nominate a presidential ticket in 2012 that will bridge the vital center of American opinion. The winning presidential and vice presidential nominees will be on the ballot in all 50 states.” AE is financed by Peter Ackerman, a former ‘60s radical and onetime protege of junk bond king Michael Milken at Drexel Burnham Lambert. Ackerman earned a Ph.D. before founding the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, a group dedicated to overthrowing governments by infiltrating, then demoralizing the nation’s leadership: police, military, political, etc. Ackerman is on the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations. He recently headed Freedom House.

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