Originally Published: LimaOhio.com by Josh Ellerbrook

LIMA — Allen County may be a Republican stronghold, but it doesn’t have to be a Trump stronghold.

That was the message delivered Tuesday by conservative members of Operation Grant — an Ohio-based initiative of the Lincoln Project — as part of an effort to replace President Donald Trump this November and eliminate his influence on the Republican party.

The reasons for their concerns about Trump?

There’s quite a few.

“As a former prosecutor, it is very offensive to me that we have a president who appears to have no respect for the rule of law and has issued pardons to his corrupt cronies who’ve been convicted of serious felonies,” Phil Heimlich, a long-time conservative and former Hamilton County Commissioner, said. “In fact, we have not seen so many associates of a president indicted, convicted or sent to prison since the Watergate era.”

Retired Brig. Gen. Mark Arnold provided an outlook into Trump’s military record.

“Trump has surrendered all the advantages that America and our allies won in a hard fought Cold War by legitimizing everything Russia does. Ronald Reagan would be appalled, heartbroken and probably frightened. Trump is playing with power he does not understand,” Arnold said.


Linda Bauer gave her insights about the pandemic. Earlier this year, she had contracted CoVid-19 and now suffers from chronic fatigue.

“The reason that I’m really sick is because we mishandled how we approach a global pandemic in the most wonderful country in the world. We failed at the leadership level to take control of the pandemic,” she said.

The crux of their arguments, however, centered around one major point: Trump simply isn’t a true conservative, but he is a conman that has tricked conservative voters and is now leading them down a path toward authoritarianism. The four speakers contend that Trump has shown a lack of morals via his consistent bullying and lying, and meanwhile, the national debt continues to grow at an increased pace despite the need for fiscal responsibility.

Chris Gibbs, a farmer and former head of the Shelby County Republican Party, said he got off the “Trump train” by 2018 when Trump stood beside Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and threw U.S. intelligence reports under the bus. Now, he said he feels like a “jilted lover” after he’s spent decades volunteering and fighting for the Republican Party.

“What I found out is that all of those principle that I fought for, that I stood up for — fiscal responsibility, diplomacy, statesmanship, free trade, even the concept of pro-life — all those were just a veneer. They were a lie,” Gibbs said.

As a response to the Lincoln Project, Allen County Party Chairman Keith Cheney replied that such conservatives are largely wrong about the president’s record.

“First of all, people ought to be very cautious of what they name the Lincoln Project. Second, for them to question the president’s conservatism is frankly ridiculous when you look at his policies. He’s pro-business and pro-life.” Cheney said.

Either way, Operation Grant and its members had dark predictions for the Republican Party if Trump is allowed to continue to lead the party and keeps up his attacks on anyone who disagrees with his talking points.

“Americans want normalcy and security. I want normalcy and security for my family. I want the normalcy and security that I did not have in Iraq and Afghanistan. But I can’t have normalcy and security for my family with a drama queen in the White House where everyday is an unpredictable chaotic script,” Arnold said.

“Joe Biden might not be the end all but he’s the bridge out of the morass that we’re in,” Gibbs said. “He’s the bridge out of the morass.”