Conservatives eye convention for stopping Trump
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A group of conservatives is eyeing an open convention this summer to rally support behind a candidate other than Republican presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future MORE.

The group, led by commentator Erick Erickson, on Thursday called for a unity ticket to bring together parts of the Republican Party but said a convention fight may be needed to topple the controversial businessman.

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"If that unity ticket is unable to get 1,237 delegates prior to the convention, we recognize that it took Abraham Lincoln three ballots at the Republican convention in 1860 to become the party’s nominee and if it is good enough for Lincoln, that process should be good enough for all the candidates without threats of riots," Erickson said in a statement on behalf of the group after a gathering in Washington.

The group of conservative leaders and Republican operatives met for more than three hours on Thursday morning at the Army and Navy Club to discuss a way to thwart Trump's candidacy, including looking at the feasibility of launching a third-party challenge, according to The Washington Post.

The meeting was hosted by conservative activists Bill Wichterman and Bob Fischer, the Post reported. Rep. Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksArizona New Members 2019 Cook shifts 8 House races toward Dems Freedom Caucus members see openings in leadership MORE (R-Ariz.), a backer of Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzIs this any way for NASA to build a lunar lander? GOP strategist predicts Biden will win nomination, cites fundraising strength 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 MORE (R-Texas) and member of the House Freedom Caucus, briefly attended the meeting, according to multiple reports.

Erickson said his group is "committed to ensuring a real conservative candidate is elected."

"We believe that neither Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump takes aim at media after 'hereby' ordering US businesses out of China Trump knocks news of CNN hiring ex-FBI official McCabe Taylor Swift says Trump is 'gaslighting the American public' MORE nor Donald Trump, a Hillary Clinton donor, is that person," he said.

Trump has for several weeks called on Republicans to unite behind his White House bid and has sought in recent days to persuade lawmakers that they should back him now in order to avoid a contested convention in July, arguing that a united Republican Party would be best positioned to defeat the Democratic nominee.

But deep reservations within the GOP remain, and former rivals such as Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWhite House won't move forward with billions in foreign aid cuts GOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads Cindy McCain says no one in Republican Party carries 'voice of reason' after husband's death MORE (S.C.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads What the gun safety debate says about Washington Trump moves forward with F-16 sale to Taiwan opposed by China MORE (Fla.) on Thursday signaled that they were warming to Cruz: Rubio called Cruz the "only conservative left in the race" and news emerged that Graham would raise funds for the Texas senator.

"We encourage all former Republican candidates not currently supporting Trump to unite against him and encourage all candidates to hold their delegates on the first ballot," Erickson's group said in its statement, adding that the conservatives will keep their "options open as to other avenues to oppose Donald Trump."