In the midst of his over 2,000-word screed against Donald Trump on Thursday, Mitt Romney called on Republicans to purposely trigger a brokered convention — and opened a window to his becoming eventual nominee.
Despite telling CNN’s Matt Lauer Friday morning that he “won’t run for president,” this answer came only after repeated prodding. At first, Romney gave an answer that seemed tailor made to keep open the door for a potential run.
“There are no circumstances I can foresee where [running for president] would possibly happen,” Romney equivocated. Indeed, that’s not exactly the same as saying “there are no circumstances in which it would ever happen.”
When pressed by Lauer once more, Romney again gave an answer befitting the most disingenuous defense attorney. There is “no reasonable scenario I can imagine” running, Romney said. Only after being prodded yet again did Romney offer his emphatic, and by that point unconvincing, no.
Why the Establishment felt for some bizarre reason that Mitt Romney — known most for losing spectacularly to Obama in an election he should have won — was the figure best suited to issue their clarion call to stop Donald Trump is a mystery.
In his screed, Romney encouraged Republicans not to vote for the candidate that best defines their beliefs, nor has the best ideas, nor would make the best president. Rather, he told Republicans they should vote for whoever is best positioned to take votes away from Donald Trump in a particular state.
“I believe we can nominate a person who can win the general election and who will represent the values and policies of conservatism,” Romney claimed. “Given the current delegate selection process, that means that I’d vote for Marco Rubio in Florida and for John Kasich in Ohio and for Ted Cruz or whichever one of the other two contenders has the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state,” he said.
But given Trump’s dominant position, such a voting strategy is sure to result in a brokered convention; indeed, it’s the GOP Establishment’s now-only hope to prevent Trump from earning the nomination fair and square in the face of Marco Rubio’s utter failure to capture Republican voters’ enthusiasm.
It is unlikely this plan will work, however. Although Trump is far from winning the delegates needed to secure the nomination, polls show him far ahead of even his closest national rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, in most states. Moreover, many in the business community whose wealth inevitably carries political clout have started to see the writing on the wall — and it clearly says Trump.
Harold Hamm, CEO of shale-oil company Continental Resources and a billionaire GOP mega-donor known for backing more Establishment Republicans, said Thursday he would back Trump should he earn the nomination. In an email, he called Trump “unstoppable” and called on the GOP to “unify” in order to help Trump win. Any efforts to stop Trump from winning will only help Hillary Clinton, he warned.
It is unlikely that this late in the primary process the Establishment will be able to launch a successful campaign to change the hearts and minds of the vast majority of voters who seem to lean Trump, especially as more and more donors and even some GOP figures warm to Trump.
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More likely is an attempt by the GOP to manipulate the voting at the convention, but if Trump has a majority of delegates but is still somehow denied the nomination, the GOP will have a full-scale rebellion on its hands.
The GOP Establishment “should have stood up for the change Donald Trump is bringing now but they didn’t,” said Alex Castellanos, longtime GOP strategist.
“Now, Trump has earned the nomination. He won it, fair and square and we should respect that. Donald Trump whipped the establishment and it is too late for the limp GOP establishment to ask their mommy to step in and rewrite the rules because they were humiliated for their impotence.”
If they not only rewrite the rules but offer up Mitt Romney instead, the GOP is signing its own death warrant with voters.