The GOP Establishment has gone beyond issuing death threats via “consultants” and “jokes” against Donald Trump. See:
The GOP is now bringing out the big guns:
(1) Mitt Romney
2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has now come out publicly against Trump, although Romney went out of his way to secure Trump’s endorsement in 2012.
At the Washington Ideas Forum on March 2, Romney said he doesn’t think the Republican nominee is “going to be Donald Trump” because the GOP “has historically nominated someone who’s a mainstream conservative and someone who has a foundation in foreign policy that gives people confidence that they can guide the ship of state in troubled waters.” Trump said Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, and Carly Fiorina are might qualify as a “mainstream conservative”. Since Christie, Bush and Fiorina have all dropped out of the race, that leaves Rubio and Kasich.
(2) John McCain & Paul Ryan
A day later on March 3, as reported by the AP, Romney intensified his attack, now joined by 2008 Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain and Romney’s 2012 running mate House Speaker Paul Ryan, calling Trump unfit for office and a danger for the nation and the GOP.
McCain called Trump’s statements on national security issues “uninformed and indeed dangerous,” while Romney declared Trump “is not the temperament of a stable, thoughtful leader” and called Trump “a phony” who is “playing the American public for suckers,” a man whose “imagination must not be married to real power.” Romney said that “Given the current delegate selection process, this means that I would vote for Marco Rubio in Florida, for John Kasich in Ohio and for Ted Cruz or whichever one of the other two contenders has the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state.”
As the AP and under political analysts observe, the GOP is now in a panic because “there is little they see to stop Trump’s march toward the presidential nomination. Party leaders are poring over complicated delegate math, outlining hazy scenarios for a contested national convention and even flirting with the idea of a third-party effort.”
(3) Rush Limbaugh
On his radio talk show on March 2, Rush Limbaugh after outlining three ways to defeat Trump: (1) waiting for Trump to implode; (2) splitting the Republican convention delegates so Trump won’t have the 1,237 needed to secure the nomination on the first vote; and (3) uniting behind Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Limbaugh proposed that the GOP unite behind Ted Cruz as “their smartest move.” But Limbaugh predicted that the GOP “will not do that” and that “Rubio is the desired candidate because that’s where the moneyed people want to go. He’s closer to the establishment, this whole Gang of Eight business.”
So what exactly are the reasons for why GOP elites and conservative pundits so object to Trump?
(1) A Trump nomination ensures a Hillary victory
That’s the conventional “wisdom”. As The FT reports, many mainstream Republicans believe Trump would struggle to beat Hillary Clinton and are urgently rallying around their man Rubio. Some senior Republicans, e.g., Bill Kristol, are even saying privately that they might consider voting for Hillary if Trump were to end up as their party nominee.
Let me get this straight: The GOP objects to Trump because they think he will lose to Hillary, and so their solution is to vote for Hillary, thereby ensuring precisely what they say they fear — that Trump will lose to Hillary. Does anyone understand their twisted circular logic?
So the question is: Will Trump lose if he goes against Hillary Clinton?
As the following RealClearPolitics chart shows, it’s far too close to call. More importantly, the gap between Clinton and Trump is closing. (H/t ZeroHedge)
Tantalizingly, as reported by the New York Post on Feb. 28, 2016, confidential polling data actually show that in heavily democratic New York, Hillary could lose the presidential election to Trump, even without former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg in the race (Bloomberg is hinting he might enter the race as a third party candidate). Support for Trump is strong even in Westchester and on Long Island, the key suburbs often viewed as crucial swing bellwethers on how statewide elections will turn out.
The polls found that Hillary often had higher negative ratings with voters than did Trump. Some of the polls also found a greater degree of intensity among Trump’s potential voters than among Clinton’s, a finding that mirrors the stronger GOP turnouts that have been registered in the presidential primaries.
It’s not just confidential polling data that find surprisingly strong support for Trump in New York. A recent publicly disclosed Siena College poll of Long Island voters found Trump narrowly beating Clinton among Long Island voters, 41% to 38%, while he was crushing his two nearest GOP primary opponents, Marco Rubio and John Kasich, by 37 percentage points each.
(2) Thoughtful anti-Trump Reasons
I have found two individuals who have articulated thoughtful and thought-provoking reasons for why Donald Trump should give us pause. Both express empathy for the frustrations that so many of us have with the dysfunctional U.S. political system and politics.
In an “Open letter to Trump supporters,” Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska), who calls himself not an “establishment Republican” but a “movement conservative who was elected over the objections of the GOP establishment” who is against open borders and will vote for neither Hillary nor Trump if those are the choices, conveys his misgivings on Trump not respecting the U.S. Constitution. (Note: Sen. Sasse, whom Sarah Palin endorsed in 2014, has the 4th most conservative record in the Senate, and the endorsement of Sarah Palin in 2014.) Sasse gives two reasons for being concerned about Trump:
- Trump’s “relentless focus” on dividing Americans and on “tearing down rather than building back up” our country.
- Trump is not a Constitutionalist because he seems to think a president of the United States is a king, instead of a servant of the people: “Much like President Obama, he displays essentially no understanding of the fact that, in the American system, we have a constitutional system of checks and balances, with three separate but co-equal branches of government. And the task of public officials is to be public ‘servants.’ The law is king, and the people are boss. But have you noticed how Mr. Trump uses the word ‘Reign’ – like he thinks he’s running for King? It’s creepy, actually. Nebraskans are not looking for a king. We yearn instead for the recovery of a Constitutional Republic…. The president’s job is not about just mindlessly shouting the word “strong”…. No, the president’s core calling is to “Preserve, Protect, and Defend the Constitution…. So let me ask you: Do you believe the beating heart of Mr. Trump’s candidacy has been a defense of the Constitution? Do you believe it’s been an impassioned defense of the First Amendment – or an attack on it?…. I believe a sizable share of Christians – who regard threats against religious liberty as arguably the greatest crisis of our time – are unwilling to support any candidate who does not make a full-throated defense of the First Amendment a first commitment of their candidacy. Conservatives understand that all men are created equal and made in the image of God, but also that government must be limited so that fallen men do not wield too much power. A presidential candidate who boasts about what he’ll do during his ‘reign’ and refuses to condemn the KKK cannot lead a conservative movement in America.”
To illustrate his concerns, Senator Sasse points to these quotes by Trump:
- “We’re going to open up libel laws and we’re going to have people sue you like you’ve never got sued before.”
- “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. They were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak…”
- “Putin, who has killed journalists and is pillaging Ukraine, is a great leader.”
- The editor of National Review “should not be allowed on TV and the FCC should fine him.”
- On whether he will use executive orders to end-run Congress, as President Obama has illegally done, Trump said, “I won’t refuse it. I’m going to do a lot of things” and “I mean, he’s [Obama] led the way, to be honest with you.”
- “68% [of illegal immigrants?] would not leave under any circumstance. I think that means murder. It think it means anything.”
- On the internet: “I would certainly be open to closing areas” of it.
- Trump’s lawyers to people selling anti-Trump t-shirts: “Mr. Trump considers this to be a very serious matter and has authorized our legal team to take all necessary and appropriate actions to bring an immediate halt…”
- Similar threatening legal letters to competing campaigns running ads about his record.
Sasse signed his open letter as “Humbly, Ben Sasse, Nebraska”.
For his part, attorney Jay Gaskill, writing in The Out*Lawyer’s Blog, is troubled by the absence of Trump’s presidential staff, i.e., named policy advisers who may make up the cabinet of a Trump presidency. In Gaskill’s words:
For now, “The Donald” is enjoying a Halo-Effect…. The Halo is always a mirage…. Anyone who has followed “The Donald’s” career knows that he is a very shrewd operator….
Trump is the known, unknown candidate. For most Americans he’s the self-confident image of success, the millionaire (or billionaire?) of Celebrity Apprentice, brazenly charming enjoying the guilt-free glamour of a “self-made” rich man. He is a savvy manipulator with a gift for publicity. And – for most people – he is a likeable character, someone that people like Bill and Hillary liked to be seen with. His glamour is a projected image – a screen….
Whatever policy differences one might have, and whatever the ultimate verdict of history on the Reagan presidency, his presidency proved decisively that a good staff is absolutely essential to good governance. Reagan’s staff was first rate. Bill Clinton’s first term floundered because the former Arkansas Governor had poor staff support.
The contrast between Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump is stark….
“The Donald” appears to be the hollow candidate in the race, the walking, talking mirage, the one POTUS aspirant without experts, without even a detailed policy outline – other than his trademark fogball slogans….
Donald Trump is seeking the highest executive position in the free world, standing on a high wire without a strong policy portfolio, and with no visible presidential staff. Presumably Mr. Trump thinks he can hire the necessary people at the last minute. One wonders if it has dawned on him yet that he will be legally required to put all his business ventures into a blind trust for the duration of his service. Of course, there are a number of reasons why someone in Donald Trump’s position would want to remain vague and fluid on concrete proposals, and to refrain from identifying specific experts and key staff members – assuming he has yet figured out who he even wants. But most of those reasons (still working on it, not ready yet, having recruiting issues) are no longer defensible.
The real reason to me stems from Trump’s shrewdness.
As soon as a candidate in his position starts to flesh out the prospective governance picture, to color in the lines, to fill the blanks, that candidate will pierce the bubble of unreasonable expectations. And with that “pop,” the fake halo is exposed. Donald Trump will then risk becoming that TV personality and real estate developer guy who wants us to trust him with the future of the United States of America. And based on what? Trump Tower? A few slogans? An honest face?
Former Congressman and House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was a presidential candidate in the 2012 primaries, said he thinks the opposition of Republicans like Mitt Romney is because Trump is “an outsider” who’s “not part of the club,” did not go through the “initiation rites” of “the secret societies” (like George W. Bush’s Yale Scull and Bones?), and is therefore “uncontrollable”. “They have no idea how to relate to him.”
H/t FOTM‘s MomOfIV and bongiornoc