mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Donald Is Trumping The #NeverTrumps”: Can Ted Cruz Or John Kasich Stop The Trump Train?

Terrible tag-team, murder-suicide or surrender? Those are the options available for the ill-named, ill-executed and probably ill-fated #NeverTrump movement.

The Ides of March were unkind to retiring Sen. Marco Rubio, whose hope-not-fear, praise the lord farewell speech could just as easily have been a brief Et tu, Florida? Then fall Marco! Rubio had played Brutus to Jeb Bush, his former governor and mentor, and then it was retired reality TV star Donald Trump, who doth bestride the party like a colossus, who administered the coup de grace against Rubio in the Sunshine State.

That reduced the GOP field to three finalists, only one of whom – Trump – has a clear and realistic path to an acceptance speech on the final night of the GOP convention in Cleveland. In addition to Florida, he picked up wins in Illinois and North Carolina and was in a tight battle for Missouri.

The one place he fell clearly short was in Ohio, where the popular, two-term governor – John Kasich – held serve and survived the kind of existential test that took Rubio down. But, as I argued last week would be the case, dopey Don won for losing: Kasich’s victory “guarantees at least two not-Trumps remain in the field … with Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz splitting the non-Trump portion of the pie.”

Do you want more happy news, Trump-ists? Savor this: Per The Washington Post’s Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy, the two states that have gotten seen the biggest anti-Trump independent expenditure efforts thus far (or at least through March 13, when the latest Federal Election Commission records were available to them) were Florida, where at least $15.7 million was spent, and Illinois, where another $5.3 million was poured in. Guess in which two states Trump ran up the biggest margins Tuesday night? That’s right – the Sunshine State and the Land of Lincoln, both places where Trump scored double-digit wins.

So where does that leave team #NeverTrump? With a series of unappealing options. In spite of Kasich’s win, this is arguably a two-man race now between Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is the only other candidate anywhere near the real estate tycoon in terms of delegates. But Cruz faces a number of problems, starting with his own alienating personality and approach to politics. The non-Trump GOP may yet coalesce around him, but it’ll do so holding its collective nose. Anyone who hadn’t made a virtue of accumulating enemies in Washington would already have the not-Trump field to himself by now.

And the time it took to winnow the field can be marked off in the Southern states and more heavily religious electorates that have cast their ballots already. Here’s where the campaign trail leads for Republicans: the Arizona primary and Utah caucus next week; Wisconsin two weeks later and New York two weeks after that; and then a week later most of the remaining Northeastern states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Where does Cruz notch his next victory? Trump’s going to be strong in Arizona, with former Gov. Jan Brewer and immigration nut Sheriff Joe Arpaio in his corner. Maybe the freshman Texas senator can score a victory in Utah but the map looks bleak after that. Can he go oh-for-April and survive until Indiana on May 3?

As FiveThirtyEight’s Carl Bialik observed Tuesday night, polls show that Trump is stronger vis a vis Cruz in states that haven’t voted yet:

Trump led Cruz by 17 points in places with votes on or before March 15, according to data provided by the online-polling company SurveyMonkey, based on its interviews of 8,624 Republican registered voters from Feb. 29 to March 6. But Trump’s lead expanded to 24 points in places that vote later.

In a hypothetical head-to-head against Cruz, Trump led by 1 point in places that had voted by today, but by 8 points everywhere else. As our delegate tracker indicates, Cruz needed a lead over Trump by now to be on track for a majority of delegates, because the voting gets tougher for him from here.

And that brings us back to Kasich. Appearing on CNN after winning the Buckeye State, the governor was spouting some fairly high octane spin: “I may go to the convention before this is over with more delegates than anybody else,” he said. “There’s 1,000 yet to pick.” Here’s the thing: Even if Kasich – who has less delegates than the dear-departed Rubio – wins those 1,000 or so delegates, he won’t get to the 1,237 needed for the nomination. And the guy whose first win in 31 tries just came in his home state isn’t poised to win the next 1,000 delegates anyway.

At this point Kasich’s sole hope – and arguably sole purpose – is to deny Trump delegates where Cruz is ill-equipped to do so. It’s the carve-up-the-map strategy offered last month by 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney. Former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove laid it out on Fox Tuesday night: “Look at the contests coming up: We have bunch of Western states where Ted Cruz is probably likely to do well,” he said. “But we’ve got a lot of Northeastern states where he hasn’t been doing well where he hasn’t been doing well where John Kasich has done well. So you’ve got Cruz who could cover you know Utah and Arizona and Montana [on June 7] and you could have Kasich who could challenge Trump in places like Connecticut and Delaware. … It gets us to an even more contested convention. In chaos is opportunity for the little guy.”

This is what we’ve come to: Rove is trying to chart a path into chaos for his party in the hopes of benefiting the GOP establishment, or the “little guy” as he puts it. This is, by the way, the third of the five stages of Trump: the first two are the convictions that he could be stopped before or during the primaries and the third is the hope of a convention battle.

So the #NeverTrump-ists and their allies – specifically the Cruz and Kasich campaigns – have to decide quickly whether the last not-Trumps can either tag-team the front-runner before he recedes entirely from their view or at least stay out of each other’s way; the alternative is to continue competing with each other in the grim game of winnowing while more contests slide inexorably past them into Trump’s column.

Because sooner is becoming later and before they know it, the #NeverTrump will be faced with its own existential test: Whether to morph into #NeverTrumpUntilHeFacesHillary.

 

By: Robert Schlesinger, Managing Editor for Opinion, U.S. News & World Report, March 17, 2016

March 21, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Another GOP Kamikaze Mission”: #NeverTrump Conservatives Are Fighting For Him To Reshape The Supreme Court

The organizing principle of the #NeverTrump movement isn’t simply that Republicans should deny Donald Trump their presidential nomination, as Marco Rubio has it, but that they should also deny him the presidency should he prevail in the primary.

Some conservatives’ implicit willingness to essentially throw the race for the White House should Trump become their party’s nominee has understandably raised questions about how thoroughgoing and enduring their opposition to him will prove to be. The other Republican candidates are still promising to support Trump in the general election, and presumably some stalwart-seeming #NeverTrumpers will fall into line as well.

Another, better reason to doubt that #NeverTrump is more than a strategic effort to defeat Trump in the primary—rather than in the general election—can be found in the Senate, where #NeverTrump sentiment is about to come into exquisite tension with the Republican Party’s determination to deny President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee a fair hearing.

The tactics #NeverTrump conservatives demand of Senate Republicans are of a piece with the reactionary maximalism that gave rise to the Trump phenomenon in the first place. The person who will determine whether this final act of resistance to Obama will hold together is Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and thus controls whether Obama’s nominee will receive confirmation hearings, fair or otherwise. Grassley faces reelection this year and will likely be running against a formidable Democratic opponent. Obama is reportedly vetting Jane Kelly, an appellate court judge from Iowa whom Grassley has praised effusively in the past. So there’s a great deal of countervailing pressure on Grassley to break ranks from the rest of the GOP—including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who holds that the next president should get to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

How is Grassley responding to that pressure? By arguing in essence that not confirming Obama’s nominee is a compromise between liberal forces who want the seat filled according to custom and the forces of reaction that “come to my town meetings and say, ‘Why don’t you impeach those justices?’”

This is a microcosm of the Republican Party’s broader failure to cope with Obama’s presidency—which in turn gave rise to Trump, on whose behalf Grassley will apparently risk his Senate seat, fighting to hold the Supreme Court vacancy open for him. Confronted for seven years with wild-eyed derangement about all things Obama, Republicans have responded by indulging rather than disclaiming it.

Grassley was the most prominent senator to vouchsafe the lie that the Affordable Care Act would contain “death panels.” Four years later, Republicans shut down the government in a show of resistance to the law’s implementation. More recently, Republicans have gotten themselves wrapped around the axle by an anti-Planned Parenthood agitprop campaign, orchestrated by people who are now indicted for tampering with government records.

These episodes of ill-fated intransigence define the Obama-era GOP, and they’ve laid the predicate for Trump to take over the party by promising to be a better fighter. The storylines collide on Capitol Hill, where Republicans, who desperately want to stop Trump, are now effectively united behind the purpose of letting him shape the Supreme Court for a generation.

And just as with the Republicans’ previous kamikaze missions—the government shutdown, the campaign to defund Planned Parenthood—this instance of pandering to reactionaries will also fail spectacularly, when Trump loses the general election in a landslide, and Hillary Clinton fills the open Supreme Court seat with whomever she wants.

 

By: Brian Beutler, The New Republic, March 14, 2016

March 16, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“So Long As Party Loyalty Reigns, ‘Never Trump’ Is Just Noise”: Attacks On The GOP Frontrunner Are Little More Than Theater

Oddly enough, two of the most important and memorable moments from last night’s Republican debate came at the beginning and the end. Early on, as we discussed this morning, Donald Trump defended himself from Marco Rubio’s personal attacks by making an oblique reference to his genitals. It represented yet another new low in Republican politics.

But nearly two hours later, Fox News’ Bret Baier asked literally the final question of the event: “It has been a long time since our first debate, seven months ago in Cleveland. A lot has transpired since then, obviously, including an RNC pledge that all of you signed agreeing to support the party’s nominee and not to launch an independent run. Tonight, in 30 seconds, can you definitively say you will support the Republican nominee, even if that nominee is Donald J. Trump?” And then they answered:

Marco Rubio: “I’ll support the Republican nominee. I’ll support Donald if he’s the Republican nominee.”

Ted Cruz: “Yes, because I gave my word that I would.”

John Kasich: “[If Trump] ends up as the nominee – sometimes, he makes it a little bit hard – but, you know, I will support whoever is the Republican nominee for president.”

It was a striking moment. Rubio, Cruz, and to a lesser extent Kasich, had just spent the previous two hours – indeed, much of the last several months – making clear that they don’t want to see Trump anywhere near the Oval Office.

In fact, the Republican frontrunner’s rivals are in need of a thesaurus after nearly running out of attacks. We’ve been told that Trump’s a “con man,” a “fraud,” and a “lunatic,” who’s “unqualified” and “unfit” to lead.

And yet, when push comes to shove, Trump has an “R” after his name – and for the Republican presidential field, that’s ultimately all that matters. If voting for the Republican nominee means making an actual “lunatic” the leader of the free world, according to the GOP’s 2016 field, so be it.

NBC News’ First Read crew explained this well: “They were stunning responses [at the end of the debate], because they undercut the furious #NeverTrump movement we’ve seen over the past week. If you’re going to accuse Trump of being a con artist, a buffoon, or a threat to the country, how can you so easily say you’d support him as your party’s presidential nominee?”

Exactly. For all the handwringing about Trump being a danger to the party, to the economy, to national security, and possibly to our democracy, the moment leading Republicans say, “I’m prepared to vote for him anyway,” the implicit message to voters is unmistakable: “Trump isn’t really that bad.”

There’s simply no way for voters to reconcile the mixed message. If Trump were as bad as his GOP critics say, they’d vow to oppose his candidacy at all costs. Instead, most of them, including each of the remaining Republican presidential candidates, are saying the opposite.

The entire #NeverTrump campaign was suddenly deflated by the very people who stood to benefit from it. The end-of-the-debate positions signaled to voters that the intensity of their attacks on the GOP frontrunner are little more than theater – because they all stand ready to elect Trump anyway if it’s his name on the ballot.

Postscript: The Rubio campaign, which is quite literally selling #NeverTrump kitsch on its website, tried to make the case in the spin room last night the senator’s vow didn’t really count because the question raised “a hypothetical” that Team Rubio believes “won’t happen.”

Just so we’re clear, Rubio said during the debate, on camera, to a national audience, “I’ll support Donald if he’s the Republican nominee.” There’s simply no getting around that.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, March 4, 2016

March 6, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primary Debates, GOP Voters | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: