On Monday, radio personality Rush Limbaugh suggested that the Republican establishment wants Ted Cruz to be the nominee, so that he can lose in a landslide and prove once and for all that only moderates can win. Limbaugh is not the first to expound this theory, but his presentation of it, right before the pivotal Indiana primary, may deal yet another blow to Cruz’s campaign.
Limbaugh said the Republican establishment thinks it is “better to lose with Cruz because that would say forever, ‘No conservative should ever get the nomination.’ They lose in a landslide and be done with it, and take social issues with you by the way.” The radio host flatly declared that the Texas senator is the choice of the establishment, saying, “The bosses of the GOP do indeed, if they had a preference, there’s no doubt in my mind it would be Cruz.”
The radio host said that the party bosses already assume that the presidential election is a lost cause at this point. Accepting that, they then ponder “who would they rather never have to deal with again? And that’ Cruz. Because there are a lot of Cruzes, in the sense that there are a lot of principled conservatives out there. There are a lot of people that want to shake up the establishment…and follow in the footsteps of Cruz.”
Trump, however, is an anomaly. “There aren’t a whole lot of people out there who could be Donald Trump tomorrow if they wanted to be. But the Republican Party is filled with potential Ted Cruzes,” Limbaugh explained. “How do they get rid of them once and for all? The answer to that is, Cruz getting the nomination and losing 50 states.”
“And then they can say, ‘See? We told you! We told you that if you nominated this guy, it was gonna be Goldwater all over again.'”
Here, Rush is echoing an argument made by Carl M. Cannon at RealClearPolitics on Sunday. In Cannon’s words, a Cruz “defeat might drive a silver-tipped stake through a pernicious theory that just won’t die among movement conservatives. This dubious idea is that Republicans have been losing national elections because they’ve been nominating closet liberals, squishy moderates, and fellow travelers instead of ‘true’ conservative champions like Ted Cruz.”
Many conservatives would welcome this test, especially against a candidate like Hillary Clinton. Back in March, Limbaugh himself argued that Cruz could win in November. These comments make me wonder, does Rush still believe this?