It is now apparent to all except die-hard Kasich and Rubio fans that the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination is, as some have said since January, a two-man race between Sen. Ted Cruz and billionaire Donald Trump. It’s time for the Republican Establishment, after months and months of saying that Trump would not and could not be the Republican nominee because of his bellicose and hateful campaign rhetoric and Johny-come-lately but inconsistent conversion to some non-Liberal positions, to end their hand wringing and choose sides.
That the GOP Establishment — Party and Congressional leadership, the donor class and even the dreaded consultant class have not yet been able to make up their minds between supporting Cruz, the most consistent and principled Conservative to seek the presidency since Ronald Reagan, and Donald Trump, whose political ideology can only be described as chameleon-like, speaks volumes.
After wide range of interviews with more than a dozen senior Republican Party leaders, CNN’s Manu Raju reports the Establishment remains split:
On one side: The likes of Sen. Lindsey Graham, a former presidential candidate is now leading the pro-Cruz charge, arguing that having a life-long Republican with extreme message discipline at the top of the ticket will be less harmful than the highly unpredictable and brash Trump.
[. . .]
Yet for all the worries about Trump bringing down the GOP or losing a general election, a surprisingly large number of Republican senators are open to backing Trump. The billionaire businessman would dramatically boost turnout and help Republicans down-ballot, they say, pointing in particular to incumbent senators’ resounding primary victories in Alabama and Arkansas earlier this month.
It should be noted that there is much more concern that a Trump nomination would hurt, more than help, down-ticket Republican candidates by turning off key voting blocks such as Hispanics and suburban women. Not to mention the likelihood that the #NeverTrump folks would just stay on the sidelines and watch Trump lose. And consider how eager Democrats are to run against Trump.
Raju also notes that the GOP Establishment seems most concerned about self-preservation:
During closed-door GOP Conference lunches, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made clear that his sole focus is keeping the majority, pointing to 1996, when Republicans gained two Senate seats despite Bob Dole’s big loss to Bill Clinton, according to several senators. McConnell has made a similar case during meetings with donors, according to attendees.
That’s a point also made by Erick Erickson at the Resurgent. Erick wasn’t so delicate about it. In two different pieces Erickson made it very clear that even though they don’t think Trump can beat Hillary, the Establishment prefers Trump over Cruz in order to preserve their status quo because they hate Cruz. And as John Kass put it in the Chicago Tribune, that “GOP insiders despise Cruz, hate him for his unrepentant conservatism, hate him for calling them out as liars on the floor of the U.S. Senate, and hate him for lumping them all into what Cruz calls the corrupt ‘Washington cartel.’”
Yes, that the GOP Establishment can’t bring themselves to support Cruz over Trump speaks volumes about whom and what they are, what principles they embrace and what you can count on them to do going forward.