Recently you’ve heard talk of how the Republicans plan to congregate in Cleveland in July to have a brokered convention, a possibility that arises only when any of the current field of Republican candidates, especially Donald Trump, fails to notch up 1,237 delegates, the number required by a candidate to become the party’s standard bearer in the November presidential election.
And just in case he clinches that magic number, you may also have heard talk of the Republican establishment planning to employ all manner of legerdemain just to throw a monkey wrench into Trump’s evidently inexorable march towards becoming that nominee. The Republicans think the real estate mogul is a general election catastrophe waiting to happen, and they won’t allow that.
One such plan, for example, will be to float another party and anoint a candidate other than Trump to lead the charge against Hillary Clinton, the most likely Democratic nominee. Several other steps are being contemplated, withal.
The man who has emerged to lead the anti-Trump movement is Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee. In a speech given at the University of Utah last week, Romney incinerated Trump, calling him a “phony” and a “fraud.” Among other things, Romney said, “Donald Trump lacks the temperament to be president. After all, this is an individual who mocked a disabled reporter, who attributed a reporter’s questions to her menstrual cycle, who mocked a brilliant rival who happened to be a woman due to her appearance, who bragged about his marital affairs, and who laces his public speeches with vulgarity.”
Romney’s blistering characterization of Trump was hailed with cries of delight by many in the establishment ranks. But Trump and his supporters were also livid with rage, and replied the former nominee in kind.
The Stop-Trump movement gained momentum soon after, with anti-Trump campaign ads blanketing television screens and jamming the airwaves ahead of the March 15 winner-take-all Florida and Ohio primaries with a combined total of 165 delegates. If Trump wins both states, his nomination will be a distinct possibility.
After almost a week of unremitting ad blitz, there’s little doubt that Trump’s electoral fortunes have taken a hit, although it remains to be seen if Senator Marco Rubio and John Kasich, his opponents in Florida and Ohio respectively, are now able to deny him victory in those two states.
Making prognostications about Trump has proved a difficult proposition thus far. The Republican front-runner keeps making monkey of anyone who predicts his political misfortunes. However, this much I can say: Disregard all the huffing and puffing you hear from his party’s establishment now. Toss aside any threat of pulling the rug from under his feet. The Republican Party knows enough to avoid that, and here’s why.
First, because of their unbridled love of power, the Republicans won’t give up a third opportunity to grab power back. Much as they fear what a Trump nomination could do to them, they also realize in the dark recesses of their collective mind that Trump could be a potent kryptonite against the ruthless Clinton attack machine in a general election setup. Unlike any other Republican running, Trump is a halfway house between a Republican and a Democrat. His crossover appeal could sell well in the Midwestern states of Michigan and Ohio. Already, we hear of how some Democrats intend to cross party line to vote for him.
Second, although the Republicans find Trump’s politics distasteful, they also hate Clinton enough to let Trump unleash his venom on her like he did to many of his Republican opponents. Recall Jeb Bush? In an election season where civility and decency no longer carry premium, the Republicans would be more than glad to savor the joy of seeing Trump call Clinton all manner of ugly names.
Third, let no one fool you. Trump’s slash and burn politics is totally in tandem with the Republican way of doing things, except that where they have been covert, preferring dog-whistle tactics over the years, Trump is being unabashedly overt about the whole process. The crowds Trump attracts to his campaign venues tell the whole story: racists, homophobes, and pugnacious thugs who miss no chance to squirt saliva in your face or break your jaw with a sucker punch.
Last but by no means least, all opposition against Trump at the July convention will surrender and retire once his “adversaries” realize that denying the man with the majority of delegates the party’s nomination — even if he doesn’t meet the required benchmark — could split their party into factions and inspire a Trump independent run, a scenario whose inevitable outcome they must find at once abominable and rueful — a Hillary Rodham Clinton presidency.
Donald J. Trump, Republican front-runner and flame-thrower extraordinaire, is a juggernaut that cannot be stopped by members of his party.