Roger L. Simon

Who Needs an Open GOP Convention?

Call me an idiot, but I thought Donald Trump had all but sealed the Republican presidential nomination on March 15th’s Super Tuesday II after winning four of the five contested states, including the biggest prize, winner-take-all Florida, by a sizable margin. He was leading now by over 270 delegates and upwards of two million votes over his nearest adversary. (Recent polls show Trump up 12% in Arizona and 16% in delegate-rich California.)

Boy, was I misled!  On my way back from the airport after covering that very Florida primary, I heard Hugh Hewitt, a man I count as a friend and one who I readily admit has vastly more political experience than I (he asks the questions at debates, after all), opine on his radio show that the nomination was in the bag for…  Ted Cruz… or was it John Kasich?

Hugh was reading from his own CNN op-ed, “Get ready for an open Republican convention.” The gist of his argument is that Trump will probably not make the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the nomination outright.  Then, at the convention, after the first ballot when Trump’s delegates must vote for him, they will start to hemorrhage for other candidates, mainly Cruz, who, via his vaunted ground game, has implanted the state delegations with representatives secretly sympathetic to the Texas senator. Hugh calls them Cruz’s “double agents.”

Hewitt (dubbed “NostrHUGHdamus” by a listener) predicts the nomination eventually will fall to a Cruz-Kasich or Kasich-Cruz ticket. Never mind that these two men are an extremely odd couple politically — Kasich almost a centrist Democrat and Cruz an unremitting conservative. Hugh clearly believes their one-two punch would make a much more successful nominee in the general election than Trump.

Although Hugh claims to be “Switzerland” in the primary process (not this “Switzerland,” I’m assuming, but the supposedly neutral one of lore), with respect — and I mean that for once — I think he’s dead wrong for two main reasons.

One should be obvious. We can assume that Trump — even without the full complement of 1,237 delegates — will arrive at the convention far ahead on that score and four to six million votes above Cruz.  What happens to those four-six million people, not to mention all the other Trump voters, an estimated 15, even 17, million by then, if Donald isn’t nominated?

No, I don’t think they will riot — at least in any significant way. I  leave that to our “progressive” friends at MoveOn. But the Trump supporters will be angry, and justifiably, if they are swindled out of the nomination by Cruz’s buried “double agents.” (These agents might be the covert equivalent of the Democrats’ super delegates.  Oh, well, whoever said we were a democracy?)  What the Trump folks will do is walk away and not vote — in large numbers.  Are all those Reagan Democrats and independents that have been swelling the Republican primary in record numbers going to vote for a Cruz-Kasich ticket?  Only in a Saturday Night Live sketch. A Cruz-Kasich victory against Hillary is then unlikely, even more unlikely against Joe Biden.  (We should, also obviously, be preparing for that. He is.)

Much more likely is that those more establishment Republicans disaffected from Trump would eventually return to the fold.  Some of this, of course, depends on Donald. It’s time for him to swallow his pride and reach out to them more.  It shouldn’t be that difficult. Everybody, Donald especially should know well, wants to be liked — even his critics at National Review and (gasp!) Karl Rove. Rove actually has some good suggestions for Trump here. You never have enough friends. Donald should be out to make as many as he can now.  As Magic Johnson used to say, “It’s winnin’ time!”

But now comes my second reason that will astonish, or at least annoy, my establishment friends.  Trump has a vastly greater chance of making inroads with minorities in this increasingly minority country than a boring, white bread tandem like Kasich and Cruz.  Yes, Cruz is Cuban-American but his Spanish, as Rubio pointed out, isn’t even as native as Jeb Bush’s (actually not by a long shot — Bush speaks excellent Spanish). He’s not seen as one of them.

Donald — the most popular media personality on the planet at the moment — commands the attention of everyone. Yes, he’s hated by many, but an amazing amount of people want to or do like him, although many of them will not admit it.  I know this is anecdotal but I have experiences with both liberal Hollywood folks and legal Hispanic handymen who say secretly they are pro-Trump. (Come to think of it, one of the handymen wasn’t so secretive.)

People want jobs.  This is particularly true for the black community that has been so evilly (no exaggeration) exploited by the Democrats for years.  You think plenty of them don’t know it?  Of course, they do.  They just need a Republican to stand up for once and talk to them about what has happened, how it can be cured — and the one they would most listen to is Donald. Let’s hope he does it.

Let’s also hope there’s no contested or brokered convention. The only people who would really benefit from that are Fox News and CNN.  For the rest of us, it might be a fascinating spectacle.  But we can always download Ben-Hur.

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.

(Artwork created using multiple images.)