Yes, horse race fans, Donald Trump is marching steadily toward the Republican nomination for president, with a new cache of delegates from Super Tuesday’s contests and a steady swath of supporters drawn to his authoritarianism and eclectic, anti-Washington message.
So traditional Washington-based elite establishment Republicans (with lawyer Ben Ginsberg as their scout) now are calculating how they could, in state-by-state guerrilla warfare, line up enough delegates to block Trump from becoming the GOP nominee, even if it means tearing their party apart at their national convention in Cleveland this summer.
Exhibit A: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie endorsed Trump for president, causing heads to snap up and down K Street. Over the following 24 hours, Christie was savaged by establishment types, led by our old pal eMeg Whitman, and looked like a mistreated POW while standing behind Trump last night.
Exhibit B: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told his colleagues the Congressional Republicans will drop Trump “like a hot rock” if he wins the nomination, the better to save their own skins.
Exhibit C: Former Republican New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman (joining others, including Stuart Stevens, Mitt Romney’s chief strategist in 2012) said she’d vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton over Trump.
WTF? you might ask.
New Jersey’s Mr. Beef was pissed off at Marco Rubio and wanted revenge. He sees Trump as a potential financial patron, either in New Jersey or for a possible Christie presidential campaign in 2020. If Trump gets the nomination, Christie would have a shot at being his running mate. Or if Trump should win – the least likely scenario in the real world – Christie would have a shot at becoming Attorney General.
The only down side of Christie is incurring the wrath of the rest of the GOP Establishment, and he’s clearly calculated that’s worth even less than “a bucket of warm piss” which is how former Veep John Nance Garner famously described the value of the Veepency.
For McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and the rest of the D.C. Republicans, it’s now all about survival and maintaining their majorities in Congress. They’re smart enough to understand that if Donald Trump is the nominee of the Republican Party, he will have a toxic effect on Senate (24 GOP, 10 Dem) races and, to a lesser extent, House races across the country.
If Trump goes into the GOP National Convention in Cleveland this summer with less than a majority of the delegates needed to win nomination on the first ballot, Washington Republicans and their Establishment patrons would rather take the nomination away from Trump and give it to someone who would do less damage to the rest of the Republicans running even if it splinters the GOP.
A divided Republican Party – and a Democratic president – would do less damage to the GOP agenda than would having Trump lose, and drag down other Republicans across the country. So the party regulars would rather purge the GOP of the Trump wing and suffer the divisions, than lose control of the Senate and weaken their power in the House.
On the other hand, Trump could rack up enough delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot in Cleveland. In which case, Frankenstein’s monster wins.
Pardon our schadenfreude.