After being complicit in his rise because they’re not the best at spotting trends, some in the GOP are now signaling that all will not be well should Donald Trump steamroll his way to the nomination. It would be highly unusual for all of the party hierarchy to not rally behind the eventual nominee but, hey, I think we are all aware that weird is the norm this year.
The aura of inevitability settling around Donald Trump’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination is finally provoking what many of his GOP rivals have dreamed of for months: a sustained attack by party elders on the billionaire mogul.
Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee who recently reemerged to predict “a bombshell” in Trump’s tax returns, accused Trump Monday of “coddling … repugnant bigotry” and called his failure to immediately condemn the endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke “repugnant & disgusting.” (Trump blamed a faulty earpiece; claiming he misunderstood the question from CNN’s Jake Tapper).
Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse vowed never to support Trump because of his “relentless focus” on “dividing Americans.” John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, predicted that Trump would be “an albatross around the down-ballot races.” Ken Mehlman, who ran George W. Bush’s winning campaign in 2004, penned a Facebook post castigating Trump by stating that leaders shouldn’t need to research whether to reject Klan support. “They also don’t mock people with disabilities, insult war heroes, divide people by religion and nationality, and insult women. #NeverTrump,” Mehlman wrote.
Sasse isn’t exactly an establishment guy, but Cornyn most definitely is. Romney may be one of the elder statesmen of GOP presidential politics, but like most of them, he’s one who lost and doesn’t carry that much clout. There may be eight people outside of the Beltway or various Bush households who have any idea who Ken Mehlman is, so that’s a nothingburger.
My point here is that a real GOP establishment revolt is going to need more establishment types if it has any chance of being legit. Earlier today, Mitch McConnell seemed to signal he’s almost had enough. The $64,000 question, however, is whether an establishment that so many are sick of can mount an effective counter-offensive to Trump. Are the non-Trump Republican conservatives (“Present”) who’ve long dreamed of McConnell getting his comeuppance ready for an unholy alliance to take down Trump?
Perhaps yes, but that’s not going to happen with all of the remaining candidates being supported by mini-cults. Trump’s devotees aren’t the only cult of personality in this primary, they’re just the loudest (and the worst spellers on social media). Almost a month of Cruz and Rubio focusing on tearing each other apart didn’t help that.
Still, if you’re looking for signs of the Apocalypse that might be helpful rather than harmful, Lindsey Graham is now talking about being forced to rally around Ted Cruz.