Last week, the Republican establishment ganged up on Donald Trump. The GOP’s failed 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, set the tone by publicly pleading with voters to halt Trump’s drive to wrap up the GOP presidential nomination, after Trump won in 7 of the 11 Super Tuesday contests on March 1. Trump still managed to keep advancing by winning the two larger primaries held on Shabbos in Louisiana and Kentucky. Ted Cruz won the Kansas and Maine caucuses. Senator Marco Rubio, who had stepped-up his personal attacks on Trump came in with disappointing third and fourth place finishes. Rubio’s only prize in the weekend voting was a victory in the primary in Puerto Rico, whose citizens will not vote in November’s presidential election.
Trump held a lead 84 delegates over Cruz, 233 over Rubio, and 347 over Kasich, before the Tuesday primaries in Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan and Mississippi.
Even if Trump’s opponents do better than split the remaining 30 states, it will be hard for them to reduce his lead because half of the states will assign their delegates proportionately rather than on a winner-take-all basis. That means that even if Trump loses in those states, he will still gather more delegates in proportion to the number of votes he gets compared to his opponents. For example, if he comes in a close second, he will get almost as many delegates as the winner.
Trump is expected to do well in the large Northeastern industrial state primaries, because voters there are generally more moderate and less likely to vote for Cruz. Polls show him cruising ahead to a comfortable win in Florida, garnering 99 delegates. Should Trump trounce Rubio there, that should effectively end the campaign of the Florida senator. He is currently up to 20 points behind Trump in the Florida polls. Cruz has opened ten offices in Florida, not because he thinks he can win, but because he wants to knock Rubio out of the race. The mainstream power brokers plan to spend tens of millions of dollars in attack ads against Trump there in a bid to derail him and permit Rubio to remain standing.
Cruz slightly reduced Trump’s delegate plurality thanks to his recent victories, but the primary schedule now moves to states where there is no conservative constituency for Cruz to feed off of. Increasingly, he will have to package himself as the establishment’s anti-Trump champion. That is inconsistent with Cruz’s prior strategy, in which he had hoped to inherit much of Trump’s anti-establishment support.
Cruz remains highly unpopular with party leaders in Washington. Many now say they would prefer him to Trump at the head of the party’s ticket, as the lesser of two evils. The power brokers who would lose much of their influence should Trump win are hoping that no one will have enough delegates going into the convention so that they can throw it to one of their darlings.
SPECULATION ABOUT A SPLIT IN THE GOP
There has been a lot of discussion about a possible schism in the Republican party, leading to a third party bid either by Trump’s supporters, if he is unfairly denied the nomination, or by those who say that a Trump nomination would destroy the Republican party. Trump has publicly warned GOP opponents that if they reject him after he wins the party’s nomination, they would be dooming the party to defeat at Clinton’s hands in November, as well as its efforts to roll back Obama’s policies. It would also mean the dominance of liberal judges on the Supreme Court for many years to come.
In an interview with Fox News, conservative Grand Poobah Rush Limbaugh said, “I think with the case of Trump, there’s a much bigger upside than downside. A lot of people disagree with me on this. But for the people who want somebody not of Washington, it’s serious this time. The disconnect between the Republican establishment and the Democratic establishment and the people of this country is longer, broader, wider than I have ever seen it.”
GOP HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
Limbaugh noted that “the Republican establishment has long said it cannot win national elections with only Republican votes. Trump is the one who is bringing new voters into the Republican fold and greatly enhancing their base and interest in the party. How does the establishment react? By trying to end Trump’s race because they can’t control him. In fact, the GOP establishment tried to do the same thing to Ronald Reagan in 1976 and 1980.
“Party establishments are run by the money people who are deaf to the wishes of the rank and file.”
Assessing the other leading GOP presidential candidates, Limbaugh said that the perception is that Rubio threw in with the establishment when he went to Washington, which is why he can’t attract enough votes.
He notes that Ted Cruz’s strategy is based on motivating the 4.5-5 million conservatives who didn’t vote in 2012, but that has limited his appeal to other voters. Limbaugh likes Cruz, and denies accusations that Cruz is crazy, nasty or a liar. He defended Cruz’s integrity and called him a “down the middle guy that anybody can trust. He is conservative and does want to get government out of people’s lives.”
Limbaugh fears that if Trump arrives at the convention with the most votes, and the establishment tries to deny him the nomination by changing the rules, his supporters will walk out. There is also the danger of a third party effort by mainstream people such as Romney and Karl Rove if Trump gets the nomination.
Limbaugh believes that in the end it will likely all work out. “Clear heads will prevail and the proper enemy will be identified. Hillary Clinton is the main threat, and everyone will realize that if the Democrats are not stopped during this election the Republican party will not be able to restore the country to its ideals,” Limbaugh concluded.
Others believe that the discussion is moot because Trump is still likely to win the 1,237 delegates he needs to wrap up the nomination before the convention. The GOP establishment has already thrown the kitchen sink at Trump and judging from this weekend’s events, it has hardly slowed him down.
The stop-Trump effort was launched last Thursday by Mitt Romney. He called Trump a “fraud” in a blistering speech at the University of Utah. He started by saying, “If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished.” Romney criticized Trump’s economic plans, saying they “would be very bad for American workers and for American families.” Romney also denied that Trump has been “a huge business success.
He said that Trump’s “bankruptcies have crushed small businesses and the men and women who work for them. He inherited his business, he didn’t create it.”
Romney also cited some of Trump’s less successful or more controversial business ventures, including Trump Airlines, Trump University, Trump Magazine, Trump Vodka and Trump Mortgage.
Romney dismissed Trump’s policy proposals as “flimsy at best” adding, “frankly, the only serious policy proposals that deal with a broad range of national challenges we confront today come from Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich. One of these men should be our nominee.”
Romney added, “There’s plenty of evidence that Mr. Trump is a con man, a fake. Mr. Trump has changed his positions not just over the years, but over the course of the campaign. And on the Ku Klux Klan, daily for three days in a row. We will only really know if he’s a real deal or a phony if he releases his tax returns and the tape of his [off the record] interview with the New York Times. I predict that there are more bombshells in his tax returns. . .
“Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less than noble purposes. He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants. He calls for the use of torture. He calls for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters. He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit First Amendment freedom of the press. This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.
“Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the members of the American public for suckers.”
That night at the televised debate in Detroit, Trump’s rivals, egged on by the moderators, followed up on Romney’s criticisms.
ROMNEY’S MOTIVES ARE SUSPECT
Trump’s supporters view Romney’s extreme accusations as more confirmation that the prospect of a Trump nomination has terrified the corrupt GOP establishment, and made them desperate to destroy him. They see Trump’s calm reaction to Romney’s attacks, none of which are new, as further justifying their faith in the businessman’s sincerity and trustworthiness.
Romney’s motives as the public leader of the anti-Trump movement are suspect. He insists that he expects one of the four remaining GOP candidates to emerge with the nomination, but has left the door open to the possibility of being drafted as a compromise candidate if none of the four is able to secure enough votes to win. He said in a Sunday interview that if Trump won the GOP nomination, he would cast his vote in November for a third party or write-in candidate.
Lectures by Mitt Romney on whom Republican voters should choose to win the White House in November are hard to take seriously, given how badly Romney ran his own 2012 campaign in which he should have beaten Obama.
At a Trump rally in Michigan, where Romney grew up and his name is still a powerful force in state Republican politics, there was considerable resentment expressed by former Romney supporters against his harsh criticism of Trump.
It is a mistake to assume that Cruz will continue to reduce Trump’s delegate lead. Despite his recent victories, Cruz has lost in most of the southern and border states where he was originally expected to win. Most of his wins so far have come in small caucus states thanks to his very good campaign organization. Many doubt that Cruz can compete successfully with Trump’s appeal to blue collar workers in the northern industrial states. Trump has also beaten Cruz consistently nationwide with rural voters.
Cruz and Rubio have accused Trump of feigning conservative values and fooling voters with promises he cannot keep.
Rubio has destroyed his own credibility by attacking Trump and is likely to be eliminated after losing Florida. The 99 Florida delegates, awarded on a winner take-all-basis, are likely to give Trump an insurmountable lead.
ANTI-TRUMP AD CAMPAIGNS IN FLORIDA AND ILLINOIS
Trump’s success on Super Tuesday has led to $10 million being raised by several anti-Trump PACS to run attack ad campaigns in Florida, where many of Trump’s opponents believe that a victory on March 15 will make his drive for the nomination unstoppable.
Some of the same groups are supporting another anti-Trump ad campaign running in Illinois, where 69 GOP convention delegates will be chosen on March 15.
One participating strategist described it as a very odd coalition. “The establishment and the right, normally at each other’s throats, have laid down their swords to prevent Donald Trump from hijacking the conservative movement and the Republican party in one fell swoop.”
But even the participants admit that their stop-Trump effort may be too little, too late.
Pat Buchanan fears that the flood of negative ads financed by establishment oligarchs will overwhelm Trump’s mastery of the media and start eating into his vote totals. Buchanan agrees that Trump victories in the winner-take-all states of Florida and Ohio on March 15 are crucial to his hopes of clinching the nomination by winning 1237 delegates before the nomination.
Buchanan writes, “Not in memory has the leadership of a party been so out of touch. The Republican rank-and-file are in revolt, not only against the failures of their fathers but the policies of their present rulers.
He also ridicules 116 members of the Republican Party’s national security community who signed a letter threatening to support Hillary Clinton “as the lesser evil” if Trump wins the nomination.
RUBIO’S POOR WEEKEND SHOWING
Rubio’s weak performances over the weekend, compared to Cruz’s much more impressive wins, makes it hard to accept Rubio’s claim that he has the best chance of preventing Trump from locking up the nomination before the GOP convention.
In Kansas, Rubio lost to Ted Cruz by 32 percent. In Kentucky, he trailed Donald Trump by 20 percent and by 30 percent in Louisiana. And in Maine, he was trounced by Cruz by almost 40 points.
Rubio took only 11 percent of the vote in Louisiana, even with ex-Governor Bobby Jindal’s support, and 17 percent in Kentucky.
In Kansas, Rubio stumbled to a third-place finish with just 17 percent of the vote, despite racking up endorsements from major political figures in the state, including Gov. Sam Brownback, Sen. Pat Roberts and 1996 presidential nominee and former Kansas senator Bob Dole.
In Maine, Rubio, with just 8% of the vote, finished fourth behind Ohio Governor John Kasich. Rubio failed to win a single convention delegate in Maine or Louisiana.
In light of those results, Trump called on Rubio to drop out of the race and mocked the senator’s recent losses.
“Marco Rubio had a very, very bad night and personally I’d call for him to drop out of the race,” Trump said in West Palm Beach, Florida. “I think it’s probably time.”
“You’ve got to be able to win. And he has not been able to win. And I think it’s time that he drops out,” Trump said of Rubio. “I would love to take on Ted [Cruz] one-on-one. That would be so much fun.”
Ted Cruz had asked Rubio to drop out of the race last week in light of Rubio’s poor showing, winning only the caucuses in Minnesota on Super Tuesday.
ANOTHER SATURDAY NIGHT MASSACRE
MSNBC Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, echoed Trump’s call for Rubio to drop out of the race. He called the results in Kansas, Maine, Louisiana and Kentucky, “a Saturday night massacre for Rubio. If the Florida senator wants to salvage his political career, it is time that his quixotic quest for the White House comes to an end.”
The Saturday night massacre phrase refers to a famous 1973 incident when President Nixon fired the prosecutors who were looking into the Watergate scandal, which ultimately forced him to resign in disgrace.
Rubio’s campaign donors are holding off to see if he can survive by winning in Florida on March 15. As one of them put it, people are “not inclined to Trump or Cruz and are desperately seeking another alternative. But Rubio needs to show strength for that interest in him to be sustained.”
FLORIDA WILL DECIDE RUBIO’S FATE
With his campaign running low on cash, Rubio is relying on super PAC attack ads against Trump, and building up his base of support from the large Cuban-American community in South Florida. But the bad feeling from harsh words exchanged during the campaign has prevented Rubio from receiving the endorsement of his longtime mentor, former two-term Governor Jeb Bush.
Florida holds a closed primary, in which only registered Republicans can vote. That will work to Rubio’s advantage by eliminating likely crossover independent and Democrat votes for Trump.
Even if he wins Florida, Rubio would still trail Trump and Rubio in the delegate count, but he remains optimistic about his chances. “This map only gets better for us as we move forward in some of the other states. We knew this would be the roughest period in the campaign given the makeup of the electoral map,” Rubio told reporters in Puerto Rico.
Rubio’s communications director, Alex Conant, played down Cruz’s chances for success going forward. “Cruz has shown that he can win his home state and neighboring state, Oklahoma, and small rural caucuses, like Iowa and Alaska, and now Kansas. Unfortunately, there are only two states left that have caucuses, Utah and Hawaii. After that it is all primaries.”
On Monday, the Rubio campaign tried to squash a CNN report that some of Rubio’s internal advisors have been advising him to drop out of the race before the Florida primary to prevent him from “getting killed in his home state,” which would “hurt his political future.” Conant vehemently denied the report, calling it “100% false.” He cited a Monday poll which showed Rubio cutting down Trump’s previous 20 point lead in Florida to 8 points.
A BAD YEAR FOR ESTABLISHMENT CANDIDATES
Rubio is vying to be the Republican establishment’s favorite candidate. The bad news is that there’s almost no support at the grassroots level for an establishment nominee. The so-called “establishment lane” which has yielded the Republican presidential nominee in recent election cycles has virtually dried up this year. The downside of being identified with the establishment far outweighs the advantages of more campaign contributions and endorsements. Just ask Jeb Bush.
The latest caucus and primary results confirm a nationwide trend showing that endorsements by state party leaders have been of relatively little value to the candidates. This has been particularly true for Rubio, who finished poorly in Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee despite the endorsement of their governors. Even Trump lost in Maine despite the support of Governor Paul LePage.
RUBIO RUNNING A POOR CAMPAIGN
Party leaders and many of Rubio’s supporters place most of the blame for his inconsistent and disappointing showings on his political operation. It has run poor campaigns which have failed to take advantage of Rubio’s strengths as a candidate or deliver his political message.
Rubio’s strategy of trying to impress voters with good debate performances just prior to primaries in their states has not been enough to make up for the lack of an effective local campaign infrastructure. Cruz’s state organizations have been far more effective. The truth may be that people simply don’t like Rubio, don’t trust him or don’t think he should be elected president.
RUBIO’S ATTACKS DAMAGED HIS OWN IMAGE
Rubio’s latest effort to take the lead in attacking Trump, which started at last week’s debate in Detroit, helped Cruz. Some of Rubio’s advisors feel that the attacks on Trump damaged Rubio’s image as a young, optimistic party leader. Other advisors say that the attacks were “the price we have to pay to get the media to cover the substance of our campaign.”
Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin was disappointed that Rubio did not go for the political jugular by calling Trump unqualified to be president. She wrote, “many will question why Rubio did not go for the kill. They will wonder whether he could have knocked out Trump and saved the Republican Party had he only been willing to get tougher and tell the truth about Trump, that he is a menace to the country and no Republican in good conscience should support him.”
The truth is that the other candidates are also to blame for allowing Trump to secure a dominant position in the campaign, Cruz constantly praised Trump’s positions and lent him credibility, in hopes of picking up some of Trump’s supporters, before sharpening his criticism of Trump after the Iowa caucuses.
KASICH HAS NO PATH TO THE NOMINATION
Rubio supporters are angry and bitter about Kasich’s continued presence of in the race. They view him as more of a spoiler than a legitimate contender. Kasich is much more moderate than the Republican consensus today on key issues such as illegal immigration and Obamacare.
As of Monday, Kasich had won only 37 delegates, but has rejected calls to drop out. He argues that a victory in his winner-take-all home state of Ohio on March 15 will energize his campaign, and that he will win in other states in the Mid-Atlantic and West, where Republican sentiments are more favorable to him. But even if he wins Ohio’s 66 delegates, it is virtually impossible at this point for Kasich to amass the 1,237 delegates needed to assure the nomination before the convention.
Kasich has admitted as much. He is now saying that if the nomination is not locked up beforehand and he can arrive at the convention in Cleveland with a respectable amount of pledged delegates, he believes that he has a good chance to win a “fair process” to produce a nominee. “The delegates are smart, and they’ll figure it out,” Kasich said.
As a practical matter, thanks to his higher delegate count, Cruz is the candidate in the best position to block Trump from locking up the nomination before the convention. In a Sunday interview, Cruz rejected the idea of a “brokered convention” and said that a successful candidate would have to beat Donald Trump and secure the nomination by winning an outright majority of the delegates.
Analysts attribute Cruz’s victories in Maine and Kansas to a recovery of support among evangelicals and social conservatives who were expected to comprise the base of Cruz’s support. His losses in the southern and border states were largely due to Trump’s inroads with those same groups of voters. In Maine, Cruz also made a direct appeal to libertarian-leaning voters, hoping to win voters who once supported Senator Rand Paul.
Analysis of the closer than expected primary in Louisiana showed that most late deciders went for Cruz. Most of those who cast their votes ahead of time gave Trump a lead, which proved to be just large enough to give him the victory. The Trump campaign believes that most of the late deciders were people who had made up their minds earlier not to vote for Trump, and were struggling to the end to choose a favorite among his opponents.
CRUZ’S AWKWARD CHANGE IN STRATEGY
There is some irony in the fact that Cruz is the chief beneficiary of the anti-Trump campaign led by the same Republican establishment that Cruz has so bitterly criticized for selling out conservative voters and their values. While he offers the best hope for the GOP establishment to halt Trump’s momentum, his nomination would be a bittersweet victory for many in the party’s leadership. Both Cruz and Trump are anti-establishment.
Cruz claims that he is still an anti-establishment candidate. “The scream you hear, the howl that comes from Washington, D.C., is utter terror at what we the people are doing together,” Cruz said at a campaign event in Idaho
Cruz is making an increasingly populist pitch, which he thinks will help blunt Trump’s appeal moving forward. He points to the single mothers and working-class voters who are struggling economically under Obama’s policies.
“The media tells us this is as good as it gets. That is an utter lie,” Cruz said. “The heart of our economy is not Washington, D.C. The heart of our economy is not New York City. The heart of our economy is small business all across this country.”
Cruz, who regularly talks about “Reagan Democrats” joining his campaign, has yet to win in the sort of places where those blue-collar voters live. In fact, Trump is the one they are voting for.
TRUMP IS ONLY ONE OR TWO WINS FROM SEALING THE NOMINATION
As Trump campaigned in Florida over the weekend, ripping “little Marco” and pitching himself as the only Republican candidate who can beat Clinton, he said, “If we win Florida, it’s over. If we win Florida and Ohio, it’s really over.”
Most of Trump’s victories have been by wide margins, and where he has not won, he has generally been a close second. He has shown dominance in states across the country, in the south, in New England, in the mid-Atlantic and in the west, while Cruz’s victory in the Maine caucuses was his first outside the southern “Bible Belt.” Trump has also proven his appeal to evangelical Christian voters in the South and Hispanic voters in the west. He is also bringing out hundreds of thousands of new voters, as well as independents and Democrats who are crossing party lines to support him.
TRUMP RE-ASSEMBLING THE REAGAN COALITION
Former Republican Congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley of Maryland was first elected to Congress as part of the Reagan landslide in 1984. She wrote in a Washington Post op-ed, “if anything this year is clear to me, it is that Trump is reassembling the Reagan coalition and making it bigger and stronger and more diverse than ever before.
“In light of this, it is stunning how the Republican establishment and the donor class in Washington have struggled in vain against Trump, while he has been simultaneously connecting on a personal level with so many voters across the country. Undoubtedly this is because Trump is an agent of change, change that tens of millions of rank-and-file Republicans desperately want, and change that the Republican establishment in Washington will do anything to avoid. . .
“If the Republican establishment does not like Trump’s ideas, it should try to beat him fair and square, by capturing the hearts and imaginations of the voters, as Trump has done over the past six months.”
Delich warns that if the Republican nomination “is stolen from Trump through shadowy billionaire super-PAC money and ‘brokered convention’ chicanery,” the party could suffer a fatal schism, permanently alienating its grass roots by rejecting the clear choice of its voters for president.
Many of Trump’s opponents, including those on the left who are growing alarmed at his strong support among blue collar Democrats, complain that the media is giving him much more attention and free air time than his frontrunner status merits. Undoubtedly, Trump has dominated the media coverage of the campaign, but his rivals overlook the fact that much of that coverage has been highly critical. Many journalists have been trying to persuade voters that Trump is unacceptable as a candidate by highlighting his alleged flaws. But many voters have decided that they like Trump more because he is unafraid to defy the conventions of political correctness which the media has tried to enforce, and freely speaks his mind, unscripted and spontaneously.
TIME FOR NEW GOP PARTY LEADERS
The establishment GOP leaders who are panicking at the prospect of a Trump nomination are the same ones who have betrayed their voters and led the party to defeat in the last 2 presidential elections. They are right to believe that Trump will drive some of them out, for which much of the grass roots of the party will say, “good riddance.”
Some of those GOP leaders had urged compromise with Obama and the Democrats to win more votes from the Hispanic and black communities on the immigration and crime control issues, as rank and file Republicans have definitively rejected that approach as futile and counterproductive.
Trump has proven that approach to be unnecessary. He has developed his own highly successful formula for expanding the base of the party with his populist promise to “Make America great again.” It appeals strongly to struggling members of the middle class and blue collar workers across party lines who have suffered from Obama’s failed economic policies. Their response to Trump is largely responsible for the record turnouts at this year’s GOP primaries and caucuses.
WHY TRUMP DECIDED TO RUN
According to Canadian columnist and publisher Conrad Black, before entering the campaign last year, Trump commissioned polls which “confirmed his suspicion that between 30 and 40 percent of American adults, cutting across all ethnic, geographic, and demographic lines, were angry, fearful and ashamed at the ineptitude of their federal government. Americans, Trump rightly concluded, could not abide a continuation in office of those in both parties who had given them decades of shabby and incompetent government. . .
“Donald Trump’s research revealed that the people wanted someone who was not complicit in these failures and who had built and run something. . . He had held no elective office, but he was a worldly man who knew how to make the system work and rebuild American strength and public contentment.”
NO MORE IDEOLOGICAL LITMUS TESTS
Conservative intellectuals writing for the National Review, Commentary and the Weekly Standard point out that Trump fails to pass their ideological litmus tests, but his credibility with Republican voters has risen to the point that his opponents no longer talk about his support being capped at one-third or 40% of the party base. On Super Tuesday, Trump garnered 49% of the Republican vote in Massachusetts against four opponents, indicating how broad his appeal has become.
Trump is a pragmatist who said in last week’s debate in Detroit that he recognizes the necessity for a certain amount of “flexibility” to make his free market capitalist ideas work for the American people. He insists that the basic principles of his positions, such as building a wall on the Mexican border to shut down illegal immigrants and the drug trade, are firm.
Trump supports a version of George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism,” which opposes Obamacare but refuses to allow poor people to “die in the streets” because they can’t afford adequate medical care. He is firmly pro-life, while at the same time willing to recognize the value of some of the other women’s health services provided by Planned Parenthood.
After his successes on Super Tuesday, Trump began making a conscious effort to take on a more traditional presidential demeanor. But he responds strongly and unpresidentially to attacks by his opponents, saying that not doing so is a sign of weakness. The record of the campaign to date shows that anyone who tries to prevent Trump from winning the nomination by attacking him does so at their own extreme political peril.
TAKING THE FIGHT TO HILLARY CLINTON
Trump discounts the significance of polls which show him losing narrowly in a head-to-head match with Hillary Clinton, because he hasn’t yet turned his attention to attacking her. That may soon change in response to Mrs. Clinton’s comment at Sunday night’s debate in Flint, Michigan with Bernie Sanders that, “Donald Trump’s bigotry, his bullying, his bluster, are not going to wear well on the American people.”
You can count on Trump in the general election to attack Clinton’s obvious vulnerabilities, which Bernie Sanders has carefully ignored. These include the scandal surrounding her e-mail server, her dismal record as secretary of state including the cover-up of the terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, and the conflicts of interest raised by foreign donations to the Clinton family charitable foundation while she was in office.
Trump has already energized millions of independents and Reagan Democrats. The Republican turnout in the Republican primary in Virginia and the caucuses in Maine this year were three times the size of the votes in 2012.
DEMOCRATS SWITCHING PARTY TO SUPPORT TRUMP
According to a county Board of Elections official in Youngstown, Ohio, 1,000 registered Democrats have switched to the Republican party, most for the purpose of voting for Trump in the March 15 Ohio GOP primary. Mark Munroe, the county chairman of the Republican party said, “Every day I take phone calls or get voice messages from people saying they’ve been Democrats all their life and they’ve had it. They want to vote for Donald Trump. I’m surprised at the volume of inquiries we’re getting. It’s remarkable.”
Munroe is a Kasich supporter, but says he would support Trump if he wins the GOP nomination. “We’re seeing this all over the country; the Republican vote is way up and it’s because of Trump,” he said. “Whatever you think of Trump, you can’t take away his ability to energize the electorate.”
Turnout in Democrat primaries is half that of Republican primaries in the same states and down significantly from the turnout for Obama eight years ago. Some Democrat strategists are worried about an enthusiasm gap in the general election. They recognize Trump’s ability to attract votes from blue collar Democrats and union members who strongly support his tough trade policies and proposals to halt the loss overseas of more American manufacturing jobs.
In January, Vice President Joe Biden told House Democrats that they should look forward to the Republicans nominating either Trump or Cruz as a “gift from the L-rd,” predicting that either one could be easily beaten in November. But a growing number of rank and file Democrats like Congressman Bernie Thompson of Mississippi have been warning their party leaders to “be careful what you ask for,” noting the rapid rise of Trump’s candidacy from a political curiosity to legitimate front-runner status.
Congressman John Larson of Connecticut, former head of the House Democratic Caucus, warns, “I’ve been saying for months that we should never take Trump lightly and that I do think he has appeal, to independents and blue-collar Democrats especially. … He comes along and says, ‘I’m a deal maker, I’m about getting the deal done.’ And they’re so fed up of seeing nothing getting done and want to see him [act] on the issues that strike to the core of their feelings.”
TRUMP LISTENING TO THE PEOPLE
If Trump wins the GOP nomination, he is likely to beat Hillary Clinton, reshaping and expanding the base of the Republican party and responding to the will of the people. Party bosses are so used to having their way and doing what they want, controlling politicians, ignoring the will of the people and not honoring their promises. They don’t know how to handle this new phenomenon of a candidate who doesn’t need them, their money or advice and endears himself to the voters.
Who would imagine that a person who rises from the people, in democratic fashion, and earns votes and support, would be pursued with such vehemence because he is not beholden to anyone? Party leaders are not against him because he is crude, which he is, or because he acts like a megalomaniac; they are used to promoting such people. They are opposed to him because he is independent and not a party operative. They believe there is something wrong with that.
Trump may be flawed, but he feeds off the legitimate frustrations of the people and has awakened deep political resentments that have been lying dormant for decades.
Running without pollsters, and speaking off the cuff, with no advisors applying the brakes, he may be ushering in a new type of campaign and a realignment of political parties. May the best person win.