UPDATE: This column has been updated to reflect new reality after late-night Ted Cruz victory in Alaska.
Ted Cruz won three states, including his Texas home and a surprise victory in Oklahoma, Marco Rubio scored for the first time in Minnesota and came close in Virginia, and even John Kasich challenged in Vermont, but there is no question that Donald Trump was the big winner on Super Tuesday on the Republican side. He won seven of eleven states.
The most fascinating, and telling, race was ultra-liberal Massachusetts where Trump won nearly 50% of the vote, suggesting reports were correct that he was altering the electoral landscape, pulling in the long-lost Reagan Democrats, some of whom may have switched parties to vote for Donald. (GOP turnout was huge, dwarfing the Democrats practically everywhere.)
More importantly, it was a different Donald Trump we saw during his Super Tuesday press conference (cleverly not a standard issue “victory” speech) at his Palm Beach resort Mar-a-Lago. Nowhere to be seen was the “con man” excoriated non-stop by Rubio for the last week. Also not in evidence was the neo-Rodney Dangerfield/Don Rickles joker, spraying water to lampoon Rubio. This was a President Donald Trump standing before us, answering questions in a measured and crisp manner and with far more forthrightness than we have been used to with Obama. He even went so far as to reach out to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell in a manner they may not have deserved, though he didn’t mention Christie Whitman, who threatened to vote for Hillary Clinton if Donald was nominated.
Trump had promised he could and would alter his style when he shifted his attention from his Republican opponents to Clinton and he did that superbly Tuesday night against a backdrop that resembled the White House, replete with a proscenium of flags. Actually the venue was more luxurious, adding a touch of Versailles in its chandeliers.
Trump is a performer, quite a talented one with a wide range, and, as a Los Angeles person, I can only but ratify Bret Easton Ellis’ tweet that there are more than a few closet Trump supporters out here in Tinseltown. Some of them may even surface soon.
With all his victories, however, many Beltway Republicans are obviously still tremendously upset by Donald’s success. It’s hard to tell how big the #NeverTrump crowd is, but you will excuse me if, in plain English, I don’t know what the Hell they’re talking about.
Do these people want to lose? Would they prefer Hillary Clinton be president? Are they looking for a perfect candidate? Has there ever been one? Donald Trump may actually be expanding the Republican Party. Isn’t that good? … For that group I would recommend a reading of Hugh Hewitt’s “Six reasons Trump is still better than Clinton.” If Hugh can write that after Donald famously dissed him for low ratings at the last debate, a lot of other people can swallow their pride too and get on board.
I would also recommend Ronald Kessler’s article on how Trump revived Mar-a-Lago. Yes, it’s a fancy-shmancy resort, but Kessler, who has known Trump for years, provides insight into Donald’s meticulous, yet gracious, management style that might translate well to the White House.
Although it can be argued Marco would have won Virginia were it not for the winless Kasich and Rubio might be back in the game if he could win Florida on March 15, that’s a helluva long shot, considering the Sunshine State is almost as much home turf to Trump as it is to Rubio. So Cruz has emerged as the not-Trump and it will be interesting to see if he can build on his three Super Tuesday victories. The map suggests that will be difficult. The Texas senator depended on a Southern strategy that seems not to be working.
But relax, you #NeverTrump people. A Donald nomination is far from a calamity, unless you see it as a threat to your personal career, not the country. On that I have no comment. You will have to look to yourselves.
But as a final admonition not to worry, as a former sixties civil rights workers, let me assure you Donald Trump is not a racist. If you think Trump’s a racist, you don’t know what a real one is. And further, you are playing into the ultra-reactionary, race-baiting game indulged in ad infinitum by such Democrats as the Reverend Al Sharpton.
On another item on which I, as a devoted lifetime Zionist, have some background, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – Cruz and Rubio are both being disingenuous in their criticism of Trump, to put it kindly. Trump has made very clear on numerous occasions his highly pro-Israel feelings. He lead the Israel Day parade in New York. His own beloved daughter Ivanka converted to Orthodox Judaism. Trump’s statement – that in order to negotiate an end to the conflict, you have to start from an even-handed position — has always been standing operating procedure. And Trump has been the first to admit that even on those conditions, such a negotiation has little current chance of succeeding. If you’re interested in the welfare of Israel, I think it’s one of the safest assumptions anyone can make that Donald Trump will be a hundred times better, at the minimum, than Barack Obama.
Now on to Thursday’s debate. Let’s hope the temperature is dialed down a tad.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His next book – I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already – will be published by Encounter Books in June 2016.