This weekend was an inflection point in the Republican presidential race — a moment in which some significant part of the GOP establishment came out of denial and realized Donald Trump might well become their party’s nominee.
“The Republican establishment, for the first time, is saying, off the record, this guy can win,” noted Joe Scarborough on MSNBC Monday morning. “I’ve heard that from everybody. I don’t hear anybody saying he can’t win the nomination anymore.”
That doesn’t mean Republicans have made their peace with a Trump victory. On the contrary — some are preparing to do whatever it takes to bring him down. Which could lead to an extraordinary scenario in which GOP stalwarts go to war to destroy their own party’s likely nominee.
Over the weekend I talked to a leading conservative who opposes Trump. I asked what would happen if January comes and Trump is still dominating the race. Would he and other conservatives make their peace with Trump’s candidacy, or would there be massive resistance?
“Massive resistance,” was the answer. “He’s not a conservative.”
Insiders have watched as Trump defied what many believed were immutable laws of the political universe. First they thought Trump wouldn’t run. Then they thought voters wouldn’t take a reality-TV star seriously. Then they thought gaffes would kill Trump as they had other candidates. None of that turned out as expected.
But there is one belief Trump has not yet tested, and that is the political insiders’ unshakeable faith that negative ads work.
“I don’t think Trump can withstand 10,000 points of smart negative in Iowa and New Hampshire,” says one veteran Republican strategist who is not affiliated with any campaign. “It would force him to spend money. That’s when this starts to get real for him.” (“Points” refers to gross ratings points, a way of measuring TV ad buys; 10,000 points would be a really big buy, meaning the average viewer would see an anti-Trump ad many, many times.)
There is no central anti-Trump conspiracy. But one group that would like to play a leading role in taking him down is the Club for Growth. In September, the Club ran two ads against Trump in Iowa — 2,000 points — with one arguing that Trump is not a true conservative and the other hitting Trump for his support of the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision on eminent domain.
“We primed the pump with our ads in Iowa,” says Club president David McIntosh. “We did some polling afterward. The ads flipped Trump from first to second place among caucus-goers and put a dent in his approval rating.”
McIntosh is looking for donors to fund an anti-Trump campaign that would hit hard in the month before voting begins. It might be a Club for Growth production, or it might be a combination of efforts. “There is no other group that has decided to do it,” says McIntosh. “There are a large number of donors and political activists who want to do it.”
The triggers for the anti-Trump onslaught would likely be: 1) if next month arrives with Trump still in the lead, and 2) if Trump begins airing his own ads. “Once that starts, you’ll see a lot of people saying we’ve waited long enough,” notes McIntosh.
While that is going on, officials at the Republican National Committee vow to stay out of things. Asked what role the RNC might play in any movement against Trump, strategist and spokesman Sean Spicer said, “None. None. Zero. It is up to Republican voters to decide who our nominee is, not the RNC.” Indeed, other sources inside the RNC say chairman Reince Priebus has stressed to staff that they must stay out of candidate fights.
The anti-Trump campaign will face several challenges. The biggest is the voters who support Trump. Conservative groups like the Club believe they can convince those voters that Trump is not a true conservative. Perhaps they can. But what if a large number of his voters are not wed to conservative orthodoxy as defined by Washington-based organizations?
The other problem is Trump himself. If he decides to spend serious money on his campaign — and some GOP veterans still aren’t convinced he will — he can launch a serious counterpunch to any anti-Trump campaign.
And then there is the fact that Trump is improving as a candidate. Just look at Sunday’s interview on “Fox News Sunday” in which he was sharp, focused, and forceful. A talented candidate who does something over and over again will get better at it. Trump is better than he was just a month ago, which is not good news for his opponents.
Stupidity has no limits. The focus and energy should be on this country’s repair and survival. It is obvious that Trump will not grease the good old boy’s palms. What does one expect from the “grand old pigs”?
The Club for Growth is not conservative and neither are the candidates that it supports. It’s pro-establishment.
The shocking lack of self-awareness from GOPe types regarding Trumpmania makes one wonder what the real motivation of the elites really is. (Truth in advertising here – I am a Cruz supporter, not a Trump guy).
The elites insist in one breath that Trump isn’t representative of the grassroots or the mainstream, yet he continues to be at the top of the polls. We might ask the GOPe to explain how that could possibly be, if their belief that Trump doesn’t represent the grassroots is true.
Could it be that after being promised in 2010 that giving control of the House to republicans would stop Obama’s destruction of the US, when we took the GOPe at their word and they failed to do anything to stop Obama, we were disappointed?
Could it be that after being promised in 2014 that giving the GOP control of the Senate obamacare would be repealed, but when we did that as well the GOPe elite failed again to perform on their campaign conservative promises – and they cannot understand why we don’t take the GOPe at their word?
The GOPe continues to double and triple down on the stupid idea that conservatives will vote for their namby pamby milquetoast faux conservative candidates, because we won’t vote for the marxists in the dem party. The grassroots have been making clear what they want from elected representatives for at least the last 7 years, yet the GOPe sneer at the unwashed peasants in favor of the Chamber of Commerce and the DC lobbying cartel, as if the people in flyover country who run small businesses, medical practices and work within the laws and regulations of the country are too stupid to know what is in their best interests. The arrogance of the political class blinds them to the reason their annointed torchbearer Jeb can’t get out of single digits, while Trump and Carson are over 25% each, and the scorned-by-the-elitists outsider Cruz is raising more money from small donors than Jeb, and when included in polls is doing better than Jeb.
Our nation is in an existential battle for its very soul. We have $19 trillion in debt. We have 94 million working age Americans out of the work force out of an estimated population of over 300 million. We are, depending on which forecaster you believe, either teetering on the brink or actually in a recession. Our foreign policy is a complete disaster. We have almost double the number of people on foodstamps now than when Obama first stepped into the White House. Our medical system is being destroyed by the socialist trojan horse of obamacare. The top 2 democrat candidates for president are an unindicted criminal and a self described “democratic socialist”.
And what does the GOPe want? They want to put forth another ‘democrat lite’ candidate who will falsely portray himself as conservative then govern from some fantasy-derived middle, as if compromise with the marxist tenets of the left is a reasonable method of governing.
As a nation, we have allowed the left to deny reality for decades. But the consequences of that denial are about to come crashing down on us. Either the GOPe comes to grips with the current lay of the political land, or the party is doomed, followed shortly by the nation as a whole.
There’s a big difference between telling the grassroots whatever they want to hear and actually representing them.
Trump is a master of the button panel. He instinctively knows which button to press at any given moment. He’s applying the methodology used to hold the attention of a reality television audience to the nation’s electorate.
This works well because much of the media has become part of a feedback loop. They’ll point their cameras toward whatever holds audience attention, however trivial, and keep pointing them so long as people keep watching. The problem with this is that a police chase or celebrity trial will keep more viewers watching than an important debate on the floor of Congress.
Repubs love to complain about the lamestream media catering to the Dems.
Well in this election cycle the media is being played by Trump. They follow him everywhere 24/7. I don’t want to hear any more moaning from the right.about the media—Trump owns em.–
No, conservatives complain about the fact that the lamestream media overwhelmingly presents the liberal side of almost all issues.
Ummm, you seem not to understand the difference between the media reporting on ONE candidate and presenting the conservative side of issues. You’re trying to compare apples to cumquats.
Not a particularly cogent analysis, considering that Trump’s ONLY conservative positions have been on illegal immigration and not being controlled by K street lobbyists. Trump isn’t conservative on medical care, having publicly called for a national health care system. He has donated money not just to democrats, but to both of the Clintons. The media is choosing to be “played” by Trump to allow him to suck all the oxygen out of the room from actual conservatives, so that the media doesn’t have to cover the other candidates. The first two republican debates were derailed by the constant attention given to Trump to engage in pointless arguing with Bush and Fiorina, instigated by the moderators.
Though I agree wholeheartedly with Trump on illegal immigration, and am pleased that he gives at least half-hearted pro-life responses, it is a sad state of affairs when the political acumen of the nation is such that someone of Trump’s demeanor is persistently leading the polls on one side, while the other side is supporting an unindicted criminal and a publicly proclaimed socialist.
Which only proves exactly how dumbed down Americans have become. Thank you, Democrats, for our current educational system.
If you go to the Trump campaign website:
You will see that he has put out 3 campaign positions.
1. Tax reform
2. 2nd Amendment Rights
3. Illegal Immigration
Again, I am not a Trump guy, as I am supporting (and yes donating) to Cruz. That being said, the three positions that Trump has put forth certainly seem conservative. But pardon me for being somewhat skeptical, given the manner with which Boehner and McConnell lied about their allegedly conservative positions in the last 2 elections, only to watch them roll over and drop trou for Obama, Reid and Pelosi on everything.
That being said, I will be interested to see what positions Trump takes on a host of other issues, such as obamacare, the EPA’s war on energy, the IRS, defunding Planned Parenthood, and foreign policy.
This is part of the insanity the self-described ‘democratic socialist’ has on his website:
So Sanders proposes more “free” government giveaways, including (but definitely not limited to):
— $1 trillion on rebuilding infrastructure…(what happened to all the ‘shovel ready jobs’ Obama said were going to rebuild infrastructure back in 2009?)
–$5.5 billion for a “youth jobs program” while also calling for minimum wage to be raised to $15/hr by 2020. Because raising the cost of labor by 100% couldn’t possibly make finding a job harder for a high school graduate, right?
–“Free” public college tuition…cause the $19 trillion of national debt we already have just isn’t enough, right? Guess it would be nice if ol’ Santa Bernie would at least show us a picture of the leprechaun riding a unicorn across the rainbow bridge with the pot full o’ gold that will be paying for all this “free” edumakashun, road-building and job training stuff, right?
And of course, Bernie has to engage in wealth envy, so let’s raise the cap on social security taxes up over $250,000, and steal money from those who have died through a “progressive” estate tax. After all, the government has more right to the money you earned in life and already paid taxes on than your deceased’s family members, right?
Sanders also wants to add to the national debt vis a vis national socialist healthcare run by the government – the same cabal of incompetent fools who’ve done such a phenomenal job thus far with Obamacare and the VA, right?
Oh, and while complaining about the high cost of living and wealth inequality, Grampa Bernie wants to impose a carbon and methane tax on business and industry across the land…because that tax won’t cause an increase in prices for anything the lower and middle class folks need, right?
And national security? Pshaw! From Sander’s own website, discussing his position on illegal immigration:
So let’s not worry about the unemployment situation, or the skyrocketing national debt. No no no no NO! We need to take in as many poor, unskilled non-citizens as possible to add billions upon billions more to welfare expenses. How else can the democratic socialists get enough voters, since they seem so hell bent on aborting their own homegrown voting demographic?
What is tragic is that there are so many politically and economically illiterate people out there who believe this insane leftist drivel has any functional basis in reality. What is criminal is how the media gives tacit credence to Sanders’ unworkable marxist ideological positions, while portraying the republican field as nothing but egomaniacal cranks in the mold of Snidely Whiplash competing for the gold medal in the “Racism and Misogyny” biathelon.