Donald Trump’s flailing campaign has prompted Democrats to launch a broad effort to offer Hillary Clinton as a safe harbor for Republicans who find they can no longer stomach the Republican presidential nominee.

Clinton’s campaign is quietly broadening its outreach to potential Republican converts, including donors, elected officials, and business and foreign policy leaders. The message is simple: Even if you have never considered voting for a Democrat, and even if you don’t like Clinton, choosing her this year is a moral and patriotic imperative.

The recruitment is a continuation of the campaign’s efforts to sway influential Republicans and independents, which began in earnest as Trump appeared likely to secure the Republican nomination during the spring.

It escalated during and after the Republican convention, which drew fewer senior elected Republicans than usual and included scenes of discord. Trump himself helped the Clinton cause with remarks on the economy and foreign policy, Clinton aides said. Chief among those was a public feud with the family of a Muslim soldier, Humayun Khan, who died in battle in Iraq.

This week, his refusal to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin or Sen. John McCain of Arizona during their primaries has further alienated Republican establishment.

The Clinton campaign would not discuss the recruitment effort in detail, including specific additional targets. But according to several Democrats with knowledge of the effort, the campaign is tracking Republicans who have spoken out against Trump even if they have stopped short of endorsing Clinton.


The idea is to make Republican voters more comfortable supporting Clinton by showing them examples of leaders who have chosen to disavow Trump as a matter of principle.

“When you look at what went on at the Republican convention, and then in contrast the Democratic convention, for a lot of Republicans this was their moment to take that close look at the two candidates,” Clinton chief strategist and pollster Joel Benenson said.

Benenson noted that Republicans themselves have begun an “organic” effort to encourage one another to reject Trump.

Republicans were among a group of former cabinet officers, senior officials and career military officers who denounced Trump on Thursday, calling his recent remarks on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Russia “disgraceful.”

The open letter takes issue with Trump statements that appear to question the alliance, encourage Russia to hack and release Clinton’s deleted State Department emails, and seem to recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which the United States considers illegitimate. The letter does not endorse Clinton, but several of the individual signers have done so separately.

Since the close of the convention, Clinton secured the public endorsement of entrepreneur, sports team owner and reality TV personality Mark Cuban, who had indicated he might vote for Trump. She was also endorsed by Hewlett-Packard executive and Republican fundraiser Meg Whitman.

Retiring Rep. Richard Hanna of New York became the first sitting Republican member of Congress to endorse Clinton this week. Senior campaign aides to former Republican candidates Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also said they are backing Clinton.

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