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'Never Trump' movement turns to Iraq War veteran

Conservatives desperate for an alternative presidential candidate to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton may turn to a little known Iraq war veteran to mount a third-party campaign this summer.

David French, a former Army Reserve officer major who served in Iraq from October 2007 to October 2008, has emerged as the latest possible independent challenger to the likely Republican and Democratic presidential nominees.

The married father of three is a staff writer for the conservative National Review and has been among the operatives behind the scenes looking to recruit former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Central Command chief Gen. James Mattis to enter the campaign.

But Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard magazine, hinted this past weekend at French's entry into the race and confirmed to multiple media outlets that the former military lawyer is considering a run.

French responded Tuesday on Twitter but so far has not indicated for certain that he'll run. He could not be reached for comment.

If French he enters the race, he’ll need a considerable amount of money — and luck — to have an impact. Unlike Trump and Clinton, who have been actively campaigning since last summer, French is little known outside his publication’s readership, and has only a modest military resume that has attracted little attention in the past.

French, who attained the rank of major, served for seven years, earning a Bronze Star while serving in Iraq's Diyala Province as Judge Advocate for the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, according to his personal bio. He also earned the Army Achievement Medal and Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal during his career.

He is a Harvard Law School graduate and a former Cornell Law School lecturer, concentrating on constitutional law and the law of armed conflict. He has worked at both the American Center for Law and Justice and the Alliance Defending Freedom.

And he despises hates Trump.

In recent columns, French has accused Trump of leaving "the party of Lincoln in ruins" and called a Trump presidency "a catastrophe in the making." He criticized the Republican frontrunner for policy statements that "threatened to order the military to commit war crimes" and "threatened to blow up NATO."

French wrote that he will not vote for Trump this fall, even if Clinton is the only other viable alternative.

"I cannot in good conscience vote for the instrument of national crisis," he said. "I remain Never Trump."

Past discussions by strategists about a third-party bid this cycle haven’t focused on an outright eElection dDay victory. Instead, the plan would rely on a challenger preventing both Trump and Clinton from getting the 270 electoral votes needed to assume the White House.

The 12th Amendment dictates that Congress would then decide the winner, a process that hasn't actually been tested in the last 190 years.

Reporter Kevin Lilley contributed to this story.

Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at lshane@militarytimes.com.

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