What is the Lincoln Project, how will the initiative be affected after founder George Conway's exit?

Donald Trump critic George Conway tweeted that he was stepping down from The Lincoln Project. Here's all you need to know about it

                            What is the Lincoln Project, how will the initiative be affected after founder George Conway's exit?
George T Conway III (Getty Images)

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway announced on August 23 evening that she will leave her post at the end of the month and even her husband and a Donald Trump critic George Conway tweeted that he was stepping down from The Lincoln Project. Both stated the need to focus on family as a reason. George tweeted, "So I’m withdrawing from @ProjectLincoln to devote more time to family matters. And I’ll be taking a Twitter hiatus. Needless to say, I continue to support the Lincoln Project and its mission. Passionately."



What is the Lincoln Project?

In December last year, attorney George Conway; Steve Schmidt, a former adviser to the late Sen. John McCain; former Ohio Gov. John Kasich adviser John Weaver; and conservative pundit Rick Wilson through a New York Times op-ed announced the formation of the initiative. The opinion piece read, “Patriotism and the survival of our nation in the face of the crimes, corruption and corrosive nature of Donald Trump are a higher calling than mere politics. As Americans, we must stem the damage he and his followers are doing to the rule of law, the Constitution and the American character.” It added, “That’s why we are announcing the Lincoln Project, an effort to highlight our country’s story and values, and its people’s sacrifices and obligations. This effort transcends partisanship and is dedicated to nothing less than preservation of the principles that so many have fought for, on battlefields far from home and within their own communities.”

They attacked President Donald Trump in the piece, saying, “Over these next 11 months, our efforts will be dedicated to defeating President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box and to elect those patriots who will hold the line. We do not undertake this task lightly, nor from ideological preference. We have been, and remain, broadly conservative (or classically liberal) in our politics and outlooks. Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain, but our shared fidelity to the Constitution dictates a common effort.”

Earlier in May, the POTUS had attacked the group in a series of tweets due to the initiative’s ad against him and his response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a CNN report. Trump had tweeted, “A group of RINO Republicans who failed badly 12 years ago, then again 8 years ago, and then got BADLY beaten by me, a political first timer, 4 years ago, have copied (no imagination) the concept of an ad from Ronald Reagan, “Morning in America”, doing everything possible to....” He attacked Conway in another tweet that read, “...because they don’t know how to win, and their so-called Lincoln Project is a disgrace to Honest Abe. I don’t know what Kellyanne did to her deranged loser of a husband, Moonface, but it must have been really bad. John Weaver lost big for Kasich (to me). Crazed Rick Wilson....”

The ad was titled ‘Mourning in America’ – a take on Ronald Reagan’s 1984 ad 'Morning in America'. In the video, the narrator can be heard saying, “Under the leadership of Donald Trump our country is weaker and sicker and poorer. If we have another four years like this, will there even be an America?”




Trump had further tweeted, “...lost for Evan “McMuffin” McMullin (to me). Steve Schmidt & Reed Galvin lost for John McCain, Romney’s campaign manager (?) lost big to “O”, & Jennifer Horn got thrown out of the New Hampshire Republican Party. They’re all LOSERS, but Abe Lincoln, Republican, is all smiles!”


According to the CNN report, the ad had run in limited buys on Fox News in the Washington, DC, market and the 60-second spot ran during a midnight run of Tucker Carlson's show, which was where Republican strategist Jennifer Horn, who is also associated with the project, assumed POTUS might have seen it.

According to the report, the Lincoln Project had raised just over $2.5 million by the end of March and had spent about $1.2 million during the same period. According to FEC filings, as per the CNN report,  the majority of that -- nearly $780,000 -- has gone to a media-consulting company owned by Reed Galen, also part of the initiative, called Summit Strategic Communications, which produces the Lincoln Project's ads and provides other services.

Criticism against the group

According to Vox, the Lincoln Project has been doubted regarding its finances, critics noted that most of the funds have been spent on high production ads and to firms run by members of the Lincoln Project’s board. Even Trump had accused them of "pocketing" the money they've raised from donors, according to CNN. But these claims were dismissed and Galen was quoted by CNN as saying, "No small amount of irony that a man uses his own donors' money to enrich himself and his family accuses others of the same. Deflection is his stock and trade.”

The group was also criticized by Oren Cass, executive director of the conservative think tank American Compass, who had commented, as per The Hill, “a group of political operatives who are not conservatives.” He had said, according to the piece, “I think you could be a conservative who is very unhappy with how Donald Trump governs, but I don’t think you can be a conservative who likewise thinks we should get rid of [Sen.] Josh Hawley [R-Mo.] and [Sen.] Tom Cotton [R-Ark.] and everyone else who’s actually trying to build a healthy Republican party.”

After Conway’s departure

Conway had previously said that Trump is "guilty" of not being fit for office, and requested Congress to remove the "cancer" of Trump from the presidency and had raised questions about the President's mental health, according to CNN. Before the announcement of him stepping down Conway also tweeted: “I *may* be taking a Twitter hiatus soon. If I do, I’d like to leave all of you with a few thoughts” and listed out various op-eds criticizing Trump.


After Conway’s departure tweet, the initiative from its Twitter handle wrote: “We wish only the best for you and your family in the days ahead and thank you for your invaluable contributions.” Even though, how Conway’s departure will affect the initiative is yet to be seen.


Twitter weighs in

After the announcement, Twitter users weighed in on the topic. One user said, "I hate that George Conway is leaving The Lincoln Project."


Another said, "George Conway stepping back from the Lincoln Project is a genuine tragedy. @ProjectLincoln"



Another said, "Will miss you and respect your decision to put family first. Thanks for all of your great work on the Lincoln Project."


One stated, "But sadly, George Conway will no longer work with the Lincoln Project or tweets. He was relentless about Trump and his minions. He will be miss. Hope Claudia is ok."



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