The Trump-publican Party is in turmoil. With various leaders attacking The Donald’s recent comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel and Trump delaying his charitable contributions to veterans’ groups, Republicans might seriously consider ousting their standard-bearer. That’s exactly what the Ted Cruz campaign’s former New Jersey state director said he “would love to see” at the Republican National Convention — a delegate revolt.
Steve Lonegan, erstwhile state director for Ted Cruz’s New Jersey campaign and former Republican senatorial candidate, told CNN on Tuesday that he could not vote for Trump or presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. He called for a revolt at the convention in July in Cleveland, Ohio.
While Trump has received the required 1,237 delegates necessary to clinch the Republican nomination for president, those delegates are people, and they could decide to break their pledges and withdraw their support, or make their support conditional. This would be unprecedented, but Trump himself is also unprecedented.
“Since the Indiana primary when my candidate, Ted Cruz, dropped out, I’ve woken up every morning looking for reasons to support Donald Trump,” Lonegan admitted. But “it’s going in the other direction. What we’ve seen from Donald Trump — we all agree it’s racism, but worse than that, what you’ve seen is incredible poor judgment.”
“Our delegates have an obligation come July to do what’s right for the Republican Party, not just anoint Donald Trump,” Lonegan said.
When CNN’s Kate Bolduan clarified by asking, “Are you calling for a revolt?” he responded, “I would love to see a revolt.”
“What I’m seeing right now, it’s time for the Republican Party to get some backbone and stand up against this guy,” Lonegan argued. He added that Courageous Conservatives PAC, the pro-Cruz super PAC for which he serves as spokesman, has turned its attention to down-ballot Republicans in Congress.
“This is turning out to be a debacle,” he declared, saying that Trump would have a big problem if he secured less than 90 percent of the vote in the Garden State. The Donald barely broke that number, with 80.6 percent.
Illinois Senator Mark Kirk un-endorsed Trump on Tuesday, saying, “After much consideration, I have concluded that Donald Trump has not demonstrated the temperament necessary to assume the greatest office in the world.”
Next Page: Is there a third choice, for Republicans not wanting to “un-endorse” Trump but aiming to make him more palatable?
On Wednesday, MSNBC host and former Republican congressman from Florida Joe Scarborough said there is a “third choice” for Republican leaders deciding whether to continue supporting Trump or to “un-endorse” him.
The third choice is this: ‘Hey Donald, guess what, I’m not going to endorse you until you get your act together. You’re acting like a Bush-league loser, you’re acting like a racist, you’re acting like a bigot. This is called ‘Art of the Deal.’
I’m taking my deal off the table, Donald, until you come back to the table and get on the other side of the table and prove to me that you’re not a bigot, and prove to me that you’re not going to take my party down in the ditch, you don’t have my endorsement, and you can’t use Hillary Clinton as a gun against my head. I’m taking the gun away from my head. I’m putting it on the table, and now it is in your hands.
While Scarborough’s comments deserve to be taken with a heavy dollop of salt (he is an MSNBC host after all, and hasn’t served as a Republican in Congress since 2001), he has a point. Trump’s Art of the Deal (a book second only to the Bible, in The Donald’s telling) emphasizes the tactic of walking away from a deal in order to increase your leverage. Perhaps Republicans should use The Donald’s own strategy against him — wouldn’t that be poetic?
Watch Lonegan’s video on the next page.