If they can just settle on a single candidate, Establishment Republicans believe they can take down GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump.
Don’t bet on it, said conservative columnist Pat Buchanan on Friday.
On “The Laura Ingraham Show” with guest host Raymond Arroyo, Buchanan said the Establishment no longer holds sway in the party.
“Let’s assume that Jeb Bush emerges out of South Carolina as really the Establishment candidate, and (Sen. Marco) Rubio and (Gov. John) Kasich dropped out,” said Buchanan, a former senior advisor to Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon. “Even the Establishment lane, in my judgment — I think they just delude themselves into believing they are a majority of the Republican Party in the primary process, and they are not. Even if (Sen. Ted) Cruz, say, got out and it were a Bush-Trump race, my money would be on Trump.”
Buchanan, in some ways, was the forerunner to Trump. He raised the same warnings about unfettered trade and mass immigration when he ran for president back in 1992 and 1996.
“Right now, he (Trump) is speaking for virtually a majority of the Republican Party and a huge, significant slice of the nation,” Buchanan said.
Trump is making a play for supporters of Cruz, noted Buchanan. The Texas senator has made a career out of challenging his own party leadership in the Senate. Trump recently has been hitting Republican congressional leaders over the budget deal struck with President Obama last year.
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“He is plugging into basically the Tea Party, populist wing, the Cruz wing of the Republican Party, by saying the guys on the Hill are cutting deals with Obama,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan also rejected the much-bandied-about notion of a brokered convention. “No way,” he said.
Buchanan said that if Trump arrived at the convention in Cleveland this summer with the most delegates but short of a majority, he simply would strike a bargain with one of the other candidates to secure the nomination. Perhaps he would offer Cruz the vice presidency. If Cruz decided to take his chances on the convention floor, Buchanan said, the billionaire mogul would go to the third-place candidate.
“It’s prayerful thinking on the part of the neocons, if they prayed,” quipped Buchanan.