It is finally beginning to sink in.to the Republican establishment. Donald Trump is going to head up their ticket in November. After living in denial for months, Republican insiders are freaking out at that prospect. To show how desperate Republicans are to stop Trump, on Wednesday Mitt Romney blasted Trump for, of all things, not releasing his taxes. Is Romney really the best messenger to make that charge given his own history with releasing taxes?
Many Republican operatives fear that either Democratic candidate—Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton—will crush Trump in November. After the death of Justice Scalia, the stakes just got higher for Republicans if they lose the White House. They could lose the Supreme Court. Making matters worse, most analysts feel that if Trump leads the ticket, he will bring down Republican candidates for the Senate, Congress, and state legislatures much like Goldwater did in 1964.
Romney came out of the shadows and attacked Trump because the Republican presidential candidates are afraid to do it themselves. Throughout the primary, whenever a candidate attacked Trump, they were immediately and effectively smacked down by the billionaire mogul. The only candidate that consistently went after Trump was Jeb Bush who is no longer in the race after spending over $130 million dollars. Cruz and Rubio throw an occasional punch at Trump, but then they pummel each other.
Marco Rubio, the hope of the Republican establishment, and Ted Cruz are spending millions on running attack ads against each other, not the front-runner Trump. After each of the last three Trump victories, Cruz and Rubio took ridiculous-looking victory laps for their second and third place finishes, and then they sharpened their knives to use on each other. Perhaps in Thursday night’s Republican debate, they will finally go after Trump.
There have only been four contests so far. Cruz won Iowa by a small margin, but Trump won the other three leaving the other candidates in the dust. He has the momentum. An analysis of the race shows that it may be too late to stop Trump. Polls show that Trump is leading in most of the states set to vote in next week’s Super Tuesday contests. If Trump wins most or all of these, and by large margins, he is on the verge of acquiring a delegate lead that could prove insurmountable. This could dash hopes of a brokered convention.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), warned Wednesday that the GOP will be “slaughtered” if Trump is the nominee, adding that Republicans have less than a week to stop Trump’s momentum. If Trump wins two-thirds of the delegates in the March 1 Super Tuesday contests, as polls suggest he might, the GOP race would effectively be over, Graham said. “You’re not really going to be able to take it away from him at the convention.”
Until Wednesday, not one member of Congress had endorsed Trump. That changed when Reps. Chris Collins (N.Y.) and Duncan Hunter (Calif.) became the first Republicans in Congress to endorse Trump. Collins, who hails New York and had previously, endorsed Jeb Bush. “If we want to get our nation’s economy growing again and deal with the daunting fiscal issues threatening America’s future, it’s time to say no to professional politicians and yes to someone who has created jobs and grown a business,” Collins said in the statement.
There are only a few opportunities for Republicans to slow Trump down. If Cruz wins his home state of Texas, and Rubio wins Florida, and Kasich wins Ohio, those delegate-rich states could buy time for the anti-Trump movement. So far, however, Trump leads in Ohio and Florida, and he is closing in on Cruz in Texas.
Trump is hard to stop because he speaks to the anger in the GOP. Much of that anger is directed at the Republican Party itself. These sitting senators are viewed by many Republicans to be the problem, not the solution. Rubio’s high profile endorsements by Republican politicians only helps Trump.
Donald Trump has expanded the Republican electorate. In all the contests to date, Republican turnout has shattered records. All the Republican debates have broken records for the number of viewers. Trump takes credit, and he is correct to do so.
Unless something happens next Tuesday, Trump will lead the GOP ticket in November.