Multiple Republican campaign sources and operatives have confided that none of the remaining candidates for president have completed a major anti-Trump opposition research effort. There are several such efforts being run by outside conservative organizations. But those efforts are still gathering intel on the businessman after having started late in the primary season, these sources told The Huffington Post. And they worry that it may come too late.
"It is one of the many ways we underestimated him, I suppose," conceded one top Republican campaign official whose candidate has since exited the race.
For those hoping to blunt Trump's momentum, the late start on opposition research is no small problem. One operative compared it to not having ammunition at the precise moment when there is a collective realization that a Trump candidacy needs to be shot down. Shauna Daly, the former research director for the Democratic National Committee and the opposition research firm American Bridge, called it "malpractice."
"Not taking Trump seriously as a candidate a year ago was a mistake we all made, so I don't blame his Republican opponents for that. But the lack of evidence that they have been doing thorough research on Trump more recently is malpractice," said Daly. "[I]f a Republican had committed six recent college grads to power through a Nexis dump in November and December, by January they'd have been able to compile a powerful narrative amplified by names and quotes that they could have put in ads by now."
Jeb Bush's campaign, for example, did put together a Trump dossier consisting of past newspaper articles, video clips, issue statements and publicly available legal filings. But they didn't have the resources to dig deep on material that wasn't publicly accessible -- the stuff only obtained through going to courthouses and sites of Trump's various properties