“All Hell Would Break Loose”: The GOP Still Has One Last Option For Dumping Donald Trump As Its Nominee
After several weeks of sunny weather for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign this spring, marked by the rapid surrender of his intra-party opponents and strong general-election poll numbers against Hillary Clinton, Republicans are again in semi-panic over his behavior. The backlash to Trump’s racially tinged comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel, and the putative nominee’s apparent inability to back away from them, has the senior leaders of the party unable to defend him. South Carolina senator and former presidential candidate Lindsey Graham, quite recently the quintessential Trump disparager who was reconciling himself to the mogul’s candidacy, is now sounding a new alarm and urging fellow Republicans to withdraw their endorsements: “This is the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy,” he told the Times. “If anybody was looking for an off-ramp, this is probably it. There’ll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary.” Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell has offered the candidate a terse directive: “Get on message.”
So is there actually some mechanism whereby Republicans could dump Trump if the panic spreads or the “putative nominee” freaks out and starts blaming his troubles on a conspiracy between ISIS and the Cisco Kid?
Well, yes, there is a nuclear option — but it still has to be considered very unlikely. Approximately one-third of the delegations to the Republican National Convention will be bound to primary or caucus winners by state election laws. For the rest of them, however, the “binding” is by national party rules, and ultimately the rules of every Republican convention are made and can be unmade by the convention itself. So, in theory, convention delegates could vote to unbind themselves (or at least those not bound by state election laws) before the first presidential ballot and throw the nomination open again. If you recall that a significant number of “Trump delegates” are not personally loyal to the wiggy dude to begin with, you could see how a revolt could gain traction under very precise — and unlikely — circumstances.
There are two internal GOP conditions that would need to be present before the nuclear option could ever come into play. The first would be a widespread abandonment of Trump by the very party opinion-leaders who have been climbing aboard his bandwagon in the last few weeks — a mass exodus on the “off-ramp” Graham is talking about. The second and more important development would be a radical change in the rank-and-file sentiment — which was strongly evident long before Trump appeared to have nailed down the nomination — opposing any kind of “coup” against the primary results.
Regardless of what Lindsey Graham and other fair-weather friends of Donald Trump think, neither of these things is going to happen unless there is first a sudden, sickening downward lurch in Trump’s general-election poll numbers. I doubt anything other than 20 points or so — and with it a renewed fear of a down-ballot disaster for the GOP — would get the dump-Trump bandwagon rolling. At that point, all hell could break loose, and Cleveland could be wild and crazy fun after all.
By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 7, 2016
“Net Neutrality”: To Remain Neutral In A Trump-Clinton Contest Is To Declare That One’s Conscience Has Been Compromised
Is there a more miserable figure than the man or woman who says they will abstain from voting for either Hillary Clinton or Deranged Donnie on November 8?
It’s difficult to have any respect for those (such as Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and former George W. Bush speechwriter Peter Wehner) who seem to view Trump and Clinton as equally repulsive. It’s odd that these folks would choose to advertise their cowardice rather than take their responsibilities as citizens seriously.
Let’s be honest: when one says they cannot choose between Trump and Clinton, they are saying, in effect, that Trump is only disgusting, not dangerous, and that they will not actively try to resist his rise. To remain neutral in a Trump-Clinton contest is to declare that one’s conscience has been compromised.
It is illogical and immoral to remain neutral in the face of Trump’s racism, sexism and xenophobia. It is illogical and immoral to remain neutral in the face of Trump’s irrationality and incompetence. It is illogical and immoral to remain neutral in the face of Trump’s threat to American civility and decency.
The decision to remain neutral in a Trump-Clinton contest is one that can only be made from a position of racial and economic privilege. The African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and disadvantaged Americans of all colors who would be beaten down by Trump’s policies don’t have the luxury of remaining neutral. Do the folks who say they will sit on the sidelines in a Trump-Clinton matchup realize how crucial the outcome of this election will be for America’s shunned and stigmatized?
Rush (the band, not the wingnut radio host) got it right 36 years ago in the song “Freewill”: If you choose not to decide/you still have made a choice. By embracing neutrality instead of resistance in the face of Trump’s extremism, those who plan to abstain from voting in the presidential election have chosen to sanction such extremism.
Do these abstainers have children and grandchildren? Do they not care about the behavior those children and grandchildren will witness in the White House over the next four to eight years? Presidents set a moral tone, and when they behave in an immoral fashion, children learn that such behavior is good, that one can get away with the most atrocious of actions. Ask yourself: What kind of moral example did Ronald Reagan set with Iran-Contra? What kind of moral example did George W. Bush set with his lies about WMD? And what kind of moral example would Deranged Donnie set for our children and grandchildren over the course of the next four to eight years?
Much has been made of Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 “Confessions of a Republican” ad and how it could apply to today’s election. Let us not forget the key line in that ad:
I’ve thought about just not voting in this election, just staying home — but you can’t do that, because that’s saying you don’t care who wins, and I do care.
The folks who say they will remain neutral in the race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are saying they don’t care who wins, that they don’t give a damn about the destruction Trump could bring about as President, that they really do think Clinton is as immoral and irrational and intolerant as Trump. If you know anyone like this in your personal life, don’t cut off communication with them. In fact, you only need to say three words to them:
“Shame on you.”
By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 15, 2016
“Chairman Of His Personal Make A Wish Foundation”: Conservatives Shouldn’t Kid Themselves About Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz isn’t messing around. Donald Trump is probably going to come up just short of the number of delegates to win the Republican nomination on the first ballot — and it’s mostly Cruz’s fault.
Cruz and his campaign team have been working the delegate selection system hard, and grabbing delegates wherever they can find them. From the beginning of the campaign, his outfit has shown itself to be one of the most-savvy, technologically well-equipped, and hardest working units in politics today. It is as if his campaign is saying, “Sure, Donald Trump may end up with more votes by the end, but we will have the delegates, the institutional support, the donor support, and the working knowledge to run a national campaign. Trump won’t.”
Conservatives have noticed. Trump is complaining about a system that is rigged, but conservatives look at the Cruz campaign working the system and think it competent, not crooked. When Trump fails on the first ballot in Cleveland, many will argue that Cruz is the obvious choice.
But conservatives shouldn’t kid themselves about Cruz. Yes, he respects conservative institutions and competently sings the dearest lines from its standard songbook in a way that Trump can’t. Yes, Cruz wants the presidency so badly that even television viewers can feel the humidity rising from his flop sweat. Yes, he is working for it as if he is the chairman of his personal Make a Wish Foundation. But like Trump, Cruz would be a shockingly unpopular pick in a post-Goldwater national election. Although not as badly as Trump, Cruz generally repulses women, according to all polls. Republicans can’t do well in a general election unless they win — and win big — among married women.
Compared to Trump, Cruz may look like a normal Republican, sure. But the mainstream of the party and the big wallets of the donor class are never going to support Cruz in the same way that they’ve supported Mitt Romney, John McCain, and George W. Bush before. Yes, they may come around to endorsing him. Some elected officials may even campaign for him, but if Cruz is the nominee, they’re going to be thinking about how to save their own seats and the year 2020.
And yes, even Lindsey Graham, who used to joke in an unsettling way about murdering Cruz, has come around to stumping for him. But I agree with Graham’s original diagnosis: “If you’re a Republican and your choices are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in the general election,” Graham said, “it’s the difference between being poisoned or shot. You’re still dead.” In your heart, you know that Graham still thinks this way.
Ted Cruz doesn’t have any way of reaching independent and persuadable Democratic voters. It’s important to point out that part of Cruz’s unpopularity is his ideological conservatism. Successful national Republicans usually have a few “heresies” to advert to the center. The Bushes portrayed themselves as compassionate conservatives and triangulated on issues like education. McCain made himself a scourge of the corruption of money in politics, even when it brought him into conflict with typical conservative views on free speech. Romney was a businessman and technocrat, not merely a creature of politics. By contrast, Cruz is a man who seems to have received his entire political formation within the ideological hothouse of the conservative movement.
Cruz’s “disagreements” with the party at large tend to be about tactics. He’s for the extreme ones. Or they are hedges between different competing schools of thought within conservatism. He is willing to split the difference between neoconservative interventionists and conservative Jacksonians on issues of foreign policy. But this never, ever dulls the sharp edges of his partisanship.
Conservatives should be wary of having Cruz as their candidate precisely because he offers such a high-octane distillation of their views. As it would be for any movement promoting its ideas at their rawest state, an up or down vote for “conservatism” is a losing one for Republicans. That’s why the party historically tries not to nominate people like Ted Cruz.
And as hard as Ted Cruz works, he is simply not all that sympathetic a figure. He has an unsettling smile. He speaks in a very peculiar patois that sets much of the nation to instantly hold on tighter to their wallets for fear of being suckered. He may save the conservative movement from a reckoning that a Trump nomination will bring, but he is not much more likely to win the general election or save the Republican Party from its electoral demise.
By: Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Week, April 19, 2016
The United States is not just another democracy on the map. Plenty of countries have elections to choose their heads of state, but given the unique role the U.S. has as a global superpower, and the effects of our policies on the international stage, a global audience keeps an eye on our presidential elections with scrutiny other countries don’t receive.
After all, we’re choosing the “Leader of the Free World.”
But just as the U.S. is not just another democracy, 2016 is not just another election. While international observers tend to watch American presidential elections with a degree of curiosity, this year, the world is experiencing a very different kind of sentiment.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham tried to reassure foreign leaders that Donald Trump is nothing to worry about during a trip to the Middle East last week. “Everybody asked me about Trump in terms of policy changes. I said he is an outlier, don’t look at him,” Graham told reporters Thursday about his overseas trip.
The most serious concerns Graham said leaders from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt expressed raised were regarding Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban most Muslims from entering the United States.
The South Carolina Republican, hardly a liberal, added that many of the leaders he spoke to were “dumbfounded that somebody running for president of the United States would suggest that the United States ban everybody in their faith.” Officials abroad, he added, are “bewildered.”
There’s a lot of this going around. At a White House briefing this week, a reporter asked President Obama whether Trump’s foreign-policy proposals are “already doing damage” to America’s reputation. “The answer … is yes,” Obama responded. “I think that I’ve been very clear earlier that I am getting questions constantly from foreign leaders about some of the wackier suggestions that are being made.”
Last week, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) returned from a trip abroad and said officials in Israel and Turkey specifically pressed him on the anti-Muslim rhetoric in the Republican presidential race.
All of this dovetails with reporting from a month ago about international “alarm” over Trump from officials in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia.
A senior NATO official, speaking before the Republican frontrunner talked publicly about abandoning the treaty organization, was quoted telling Reuters, “European diplomats are constantly asking about Trump’s rise with disbelief and, now, growing panic.”
As we talked about at the time, there’s ample speculation about the message the United States would send to the world if Trump was elected president. But there’s probably not enough speculation about the damage the success of Trump’s campaign is already doing to the nation’s reputation.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 8, 2016
When it comes to endorsements from Senate Republicans, the current tally has to sting a little for Ted Cruz. Aside from the two sitting GOP senators who are still in the race, there are 52 Republicans in the chamber – 14 of them have backed Marco Rubio, while Donald Trump and John Kasich have just one endorsement each.
Ted Cruz, who’s worked alongside his Republican colleagues for a few years, has zero.
Shortly before the Iowa caucuses, Trump made this dynamic a part of his message. “Think about it, not endorsed by one United States Senator and he works with them every day,” Trump said of Cruz. He added, “Not one Republican senator. How do you do that? How do you run a country that way? … The guy doesn’t have any endorsements.”
Yesterday, however, National Review published a report that captured quite a bit of attention, noting that the endorsement race would soon be jolted.
With the prospect of Donald Trump’s nomination looming over the GOP, Cruz is set to unveil endorsements from more than four senators this week, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
This, naturally, prompted quite a bit of chatter about which Senate Republicans would back Cruz and what effect it’d have on the race. Late yesterday, however, National Review updated its piece:
An earlier post stated that Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign was set to unveil a series of endorsements from Cruz’s fellow senators. The report was erroneous. As of this writing, the campaign has no pending Senate endorsements to announce.
As of this morning, National Review has revised the piece once again.
With the prospect of Donald Trump’s nomination looming over the GOP, Cruz is set to unveil a slew of endorsements – at least one from a Senate colleague – as early as this week, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
Whether or not the piece will be updated again is anyone’s guess, but as of this minute, that’s what it says.
For what it’s worth, the actual answer to the question about Cruz’s Senate support is more than just trivia. It’s no secret that Senate Republicans detest their Texas colleague – Lindsey Graham recently joked, “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you” – and they’ve directed their endorsements elsewhere for a reason.
If, however, GOP senators started to see Cruz as a credible, competitive rival to Donald Trump, and they started endorsing him at this key point in the race, it would send a powerful signal about the direction of the overall race and the steps the party might be willing to take to derail their own frontrunner.
As things stand, yesterday’s reporting about Cruz’s sudden popularity among his own colleagues was apparently wrong. Senate Republicans still hate Trump, but as it turns out, they still hate Cruz, too.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, March 8, 2016