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Who Is David French and Is He Running for President?

Meet the man who conservative activist Bill Kristol is touting as a potential independent candidate for president.
Shown at the offices of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, is then-president David French, Aug. 17, 2005, in Philadelphia.GEORGE WIDMAN / AP file

After a feverish few days of speculation over who conservative “Never Trump” activist Bill Kristol was hinting about in a tweet over the weekend boasting of a third-party challenger to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the cat is out of the bag: Kristol is courting constitutional lawyer and National Review writer David French to run for president.

Several sources confirmed to NBC News that French is interested in a bid, but has not yet committed to running or not.

Wait, who?

That’s a question a lot of people are asking! French isn’t well-known.

He’s a constitutional lawyer, conservative thinker, veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a co-author of best-selling book that bills itself as the ‘definitive book on ISIS’. His recent Weekly Standard columns range from a “Game of Thrones” recap to railing against the conservative movement’s awkward embrace of Trump and college activists.

Perhaps the bigger question is can a relatively unknown private citizen mount a presidential bid in five months against one of the most well-known public servants and an internationally-known mogul and reality television star?

Well, does he have a lot of cash?

Not that we know of, but millionaire and Trump critic Mitt Romney has already signaled his interest.

What about his family?

He’s married to Nancy French, a ghostwriter for the Sarah Palin family, and they live in Tennessee with three children.

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They opened up about their marriage in a book, Home and Away, and shared the detailed rulebook they’d followed while he was in Iraq, which banned Nancy’s use of Facebook (to avoid “the ghosts of boyfriends past”), phone conversations with men, or “meaningful e-mail exchanges about politics or any other subject.”

When his wife began emailing with a colleague about faith, French asked her to end the relationship, writing that “the most intimate conversations a person has are about life and faith” — and that “spiritual and emotional intimacy frequently leads to physical intimacy.”

What do they think about all this?

“He’s been trying to get other people to run for a long time, so that’s probably why people are considering him, you know, because he’s been very adamantly anti-Trump, or at least Never Trump, Never Hillary,” Nancy French told NBC News on Wednesday.

“So we just want someone to run. I don’t know if it’ll be him–it’ll be quite jolting to our lives if that is the case. But he’d be great. We just don’t know if it’s the right thing for him to do.”

What does he think about Donald Trump?

He’s not a fan.

“When I look at Trump, I see a catastrophe in the making,” French wrote in a recent column. “And for that reason – among many others — I cannot in good conscience vote for the instrument of national crisis.”

He condemned Trump supporters in another column: “While I’m often frustrated by GOP leadership…the idea that we should destroy their influence for the sake of elevating a far more liberal, ignorant, and dishonest human being to the height of American power strikes me as virtually insane. It would be like Lincoln firing his previous commanders and replacing them not with U.S. Grant but with Bill the Butcher.”

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