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“Caught Between The Devil And The Deep Orange Sea”: Who Does The Republican Establishment Hate More, Trump Or Cruz?

Dear Republican establishment: The horns of your dilemma were laid bare this evening. You’ve spent the last few months worrying about the damage Donald Trump will do to the GOP brand; the latest debate proved that there is indeed a candidate who can take on the tyrant of Trump Tower directly and deftly.

But that candidate is Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who may actually stir more loathing in the Republican establishment breast than even Trump.

Oh what’s an insider Republican to do? They may end up trapped between the devil and the deep orange sea.

The Trump-Cruz tussle fizzled in the last debate but Thursday night sparks – and jabs, and even a comment about a candidate’s mother – finally flew between the GOP frontrunners.

The proximate cause of friction between the pair was the ongoing question of Ted Cruz’s birth status, an issue that Trump has been pushing in recent weeks as Cruz has steadily climbed in the polls. The Texas senator had a polished answer (OK, where Cruz is concerned “polished answer” is redundant), starting with the obligatory glad we’re focused on the important issues quip, pivoted to a shot at Trump noting that in the fall the former reality TV star had dismissed this as a non-issue.

“Since September, the Constitution hasn’t changed, but the poll numbers have,” Cruz said. “And I recognize that Donald is dismayed that his poll numbers are dropping in Iowa, but the facts and the law here are really clear.” Cruz even stretched his answer to include the fact that Trump’s mother was born in Scotland.

Trump came back with his claim that he doesn’t care about Cruz’s status but that those mean old Democrats are bound to bring suit on it. The claim is a transparent chuck-and-duck dodge and the crowd let him know they weren’t buying, booing him lustily. (They also booed him when he cited a poll showing that he had pulled back ahead of Cruz in Iowa.)

Point Cruz.

Trump did better in the evening’s second go-round with Trump, when the Texas senator was asked about his attacking the realtor for embodying “New York values.” Asked to clarify, Cruz said, “There are many, many wonderful working men and women in New York,” Cruz said. “But everyone understands that the value of New York City are socially liberal, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, focused around money and the media.”

Trump shot back: “When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on Earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York,” he said, noting New Yorkers’ fighting spirit and the lingering stench of death in lower Manhattan for months afterward. “Everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved New Yorkers.”

Point Trump, I think – though in a GOP primary, New York as modern day Sodom and Gomorrah may well play better at this point than any lingering sentiment of post-9/11 unity.

To wit, this Twitter exchange between uberconservative Erick Erickson of RedState and the Examiner’s Tim Carney, who is himself no liberal.

Would I be more American, Erick, if my home state had fought against America in the 1860s? — and lost? https://t.co/tcsGMyOrep

— Tim Carney (@TPCarney) January 15, 2016

And I’m just going to throw this one in as well because as a native New Yorker I think it’s right on target:

Real New York values: Losing 3,000 brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers to Muslim terrorists — and not resorting to Trump-style fearmongering

— Josh Greenman (@joshgreenman) January 15, 2016

Anyway, back to Cruz and Trump. The GOP establishment has spent months working itself into a lather about the danger Trump poses to the party. But no one has demonstrated an interest or an ability to stand up to him. Sure, there have been sporadic attacks from Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Rand Paul, but they’ve been clumsy and Trump has brushed them off. Cruz landed blows against The Donald tonight and the crowd was often on his side.

So the establishment should be delighted that a potential white knight may be riding in to save them from the ticking offense-bomb that is Trump, right? The only problem is that they may hate Cruz more than they hate Trump. They also worry that Cruz would prove a greater drag on House Republicans in November. Seriously.

So will any of the four establishment candidates – Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and sitting Govs. John Kasich of Ohio and Chris Christie of New Jersey – step up? The four remain bunched up in the polls – and don’t look now but Kasich has moved up four points in the last month.

Rubio had his usual smooth debate and a strong exchange with Cruz accusing him of being a run of the mill flip-flopper. Bush displayed more energy than in earlier debates but it’s too little and too late. Kasich managed to win plaudits from Trump, and Christie displayed his usual angry bluster and delivered his trademark complaint about senators debating legislative details.

New Hampshire had better be a culling ground; else the Republican establishment may find up that these horns and this dilemma leave them with a stinging prick.

 

By: Robert Schlesinger, Managing Editor for Opinion, U.S. News & World Report, January 15, 2016

January 17, 2016 - Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Ted Cruz | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. To be frank, I am not sure which is the worst of two evils. Trump will blow with the wind and is unlikely to do much of the BS he espouses, in my view. Truth is a variable commodity to Trump. Cruz just might do some of the inane things he espouses, which makes him scarier. Plus, not many who have worked with Cruz will advocate for him, which is telling.

    Like

    Comment by Keith | January 17, 2016 | Reply


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