Last week, the inevitable happened. After a last-ditch effort by those who had hoped to stop him in the Indiana primary, the Republican establishment resigned itself to the fact that its standard bearer going into the November general election would be Donald Trump.
The certainty of Trump’s nomination, which will be made official at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland between July 18 and 21, has put a lot of those members of the Republican establishment in a very awkward position. Trump was pilloried throughout a year-long primary season that resembled a never-ending Jerry Springer episode. As much as Trump himself continued to sink to new lows of discourse, the GOP was not far behind him.
Many of the charges leveled against Trump by his opponents during that primary season have already been rolled into a “best-of” compilation for an ad by his likely Democratic opponent, Hilary Clinton. The minute-long spot features Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush calling Trump a con artist, a phony, a bully, “the most vulgar person ever to run for the presidency,” and “a xenophobic, race-baiting bigot.” The clip concludes with Jeb saying of Trump, “He needs therapy.”
Trumps nomination will also fall under the shadow of other remarkable turns of events: The unprecedented press conference of former Massachusetts governor and Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney. In a long speech, Romney concluded with the following remarks about Trump:
“His domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president and his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill.”
Others have followed Romney’s lead. The entire Bush family has vowed not to vote for him. The Koch brothers – perhaps the party’s most affluent and influential kingmakers – have suggested that Trump is a threat to free society. Recently, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he “was not ready” to support a Trump candidacy.
Some GOP leaders, however, are showing they are ready to be good soldiers and back the man their party was trying to stop.
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell supported Trump in a statement that resembled a high school word problem: “I have committed to supporting the nominee chosen by Republican voters, and Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee, is now on the verge of clinching that nomination.”
If A=X and X=Trump, I guess A=Trump.
This doesn’t mean, of course, that Trump won’t enjoy a lot of support within the party. And it should be obvious that if the Republican establishment had better purchase within its party, it wouldn’t be in the position of a choice between holding its nose and eating its words or holding out entirely.
If conventional wisdom had not just been turned on its head, Trump’s status within the GOP and his historic unfavorable ratings – a recent poll found only 24 percent of voters have a favorable view of trump, while 57 percent view him unfavorably – would suggest he is cruising towards certain defeat.
But with a shaky likely opponent in Hilary Clinton, who is right behind Trump on the nation’s least liked political list with a 52 percent unfavorable rating, November might just be anyone’s ballgame.
— Pete Mazzaccaro