Frantic back-room strategy sessions by Republican donors. Intense and lengthy conference calls among consultants. Collaboration among think tanks and activists. Open-letters featured on conservative websites warning about a coming apocalypse. Ads questioning his personal life, political bona fides, business acumen, and character are running in every key primary state.
The anti-Trump forces are hard at work, well-financed, and feel like they have the frontrunner centered in their political cross-hairs. The effort is propelled not only by supporters of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, but also by independent organizations such as the Club for Growth and America Rising.
While the #NeverTrump brigade is kicking up lots of dust and undoubtedly shaving support from the frontrunner in the midst of this critical primary stretch, one wonders—to what end? The recent Washington Times headline read: “Anti-Trump lobby admits it has no end-goal.”
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A casual observer of politics may surmise that the big donors who supported Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush, now mobilizing against Trump, are certain to rally behind the only other man with a delegate stash — Ted Cruz. This is an unwise assumption.
Can Hillary really be preferable to the junior senator from Texas?
Consider what lead spokesman for the Republican high-minded set, New York Times columnist David Brooks, said on Meet the Press: “This guy Ted Cruz is almost as electable as Donald Trump to me. He is basically in the Santorum bucket.” Brooks was channeling what the Democrats are thinking on the prospect of nominee Cruz — but of course his own views and theirs are one in the same.
In his New York Times editorial today, Brooks suggested that with Trump around, Cruz resembles that gal in the bar who begins to look attractive at around 2 am. “Well, Republicans, have your standards really fallen so low so fast? Are you really that desperate?”
Anti-Trump warrior Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse says he won’t vote for Hillary, but also won’t endorse Cruz. Why? Can Hillary really be preferable to the junior senator from Texas?
“At least you preserve some integrity of the party and maybe preserve the Senate and the House of Representatives,” Brooks added about the prospect of sacrificing the presidency instead of ceding the nomination to Cruz.
None of this should surprise to anyone who has followed the intersecting paths of the GOP & Democratic Establishment. “The differences just aren’t that great,” commented Tucker Carlson of the Weekly Standard. “On trade, on immigration, on foreign policy they’re pretty much on the same page.”
As for Mrs. Clinton’s left-wing abortion views, no problem! For the GOP Establishment, killing Trump is still worth the risk of blowing up the entire party and handing a victory to Hillary. “On the social issues, they don’t care,” Carlson told me. “Most of them are, in real life, they’re pro-choice. They have more in common with her.”
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While Republican elites aren’t losing sleep about a Clinton third term, they are terrified of Cruz. “I think that they fear — I know they worry about Ted Cruz a lot more [than Trump],” revealed New York Times political reporter Jeremy Peters in an interview on my radio show. He added that “internal polling” by the GOP showed that with Ted Cruz at the top of the ticket, they do worse in Senate and House races than with Trump at the top.
At this point, it is painfully obvious that Marco Rubio’s staying in the race helps Trump. If he would get out, and tell his delegates to vote for Cruz, then Cruz would be in the lead. Furthermore, the anti-Trump forces could unite in Florida. By continuing to stay in the race, Rubio makes it much more likely that Trump gets Florida’s 99 delegates. But at least for now, neither Rubio nor his supporters are comfortable with Cruz being the nominee.
Neo-conservative thinkers such as Bill Kristol are openly discussing the prospect of a convention fight, where a candidate other than one in the current field becomes the nominee. Chief anti-Trump spokesman Mitt Romney himself is open to the idea of being that man. (Banking on the idea that third time’s a charm.) Then there are the fanciful murmurs about Speaker Paul Ryan being “chosen” by party “elders” in an effort to “save the election” in Cleveland.
Members of the Establishment should save everyone the time, money and vapid punditry and announce their enthusiastic support for Hillary Clinton.
The train has stopped at Silly Central. Members of the Establishment should save everyone the time, money and vapid punditry and announce their enthusiastic support for Hillary Clinton. They are closer to her on the issues than they are either to Trump or Cruz. They like her more than they like Trump or Cruz. Hillary referenced her warm friendship with John McCain in her town hall event on Fox News. McCain told us all back in 2005 that Hillary would make a fine president.
Benghazi? Fuggedaboudit. Email scandal? Overblown. The real threat to their agenda is found in the agenda of the populist Trump and the conservative reformer Cruz.
If this re-orientation happened, things would be a lot clearer. Then whoever won between Trump and Cruz could try to grow the GOP by reaching out to voters who have been alienated by the leadership in both parties. We could have a real debate between Hillary, as a representative of the status quo, and a Republican Party with a message of real change. That would at least give the voters a choice. It would also encourage the populists and conservatives to work together, as they should.
But the GOP elites would rather control a losing party than lose control of a winning one, so they will continue to sow discord and discontent within our ranks. Imagine if they had launched such a fierce, relentless, well-financed effort against Barack Obama.