Washington Merry-Go-Round

Disarrayed GOP options

IMMEDIATE RELEASE 3 Mar. 2016

WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective

America’s Longest-Running Column, Founded 1932

Disarrayed GOP options

By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift

WASHINGTON – Time is growing short to stop Donald Trump, and Republicans are divided among themselves about what course to follow. Primary elections on Tuesday, March 15 will show whether Marco Rubio and John Kasich can do what Ted Cruz did in Texas and beat Trump in their home states of Florida and Ohio. Right now Kasich is tied with Trump, and Rubio is behind.

A new stop-Trump PAC, Our Principles, is airing attack ads against Trump for what it calls his “scam” to make millions with a fake university that awarded no real degrees. There’s more coming to assail Trump on a number of fronts where any conventional candidate would be vulnerable, like his refusal to release his tax returns, his companies’ multiple bankruptcies, and his racially infused rhetoric.

The problem for the anti-Trump forces, however, is that Trump so far has been able to brush aside the negative ads aimed at him. He re-directs voters’ attention to the billionaire donors and special interests behind the ads, and they are not credible in the eyes of Trump supporters.

Like the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

The parade of figures denouncing Trump hasn’t stopped him either. Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is the latest to take to the microphone and warn his party about the perils of nominating Trump, whom he called a “phony.”

Four years ago, Romney lavished Trump with praise as he accepted the billionaire’s sought after endorsement at a Trump hotel and casino in Las Vegas. Hard to tell who gets to call whom “phony.”

Trump is warning that if party officials try to deny him the nomination when he has won the bulk of the delegates his people would walk out of the Convention with him.

A Trump third party bid has always terrified the GOP, but now that he has such a commanding lead in the primaries, mainstream Republicans are seeing the virtue of a third-party bid as a vehicle for an anti-Trump Republican conservative to run.

Kasich’s name is often the first to come up in the context of a credible third-party bid. A two-term governor of Ohio who previously spent 17 years in Congress and headed the Budget Committee during the Bill Clinton years, Kasich has serious governing credentials and a temperament that is closer to presidential than any of his remaining rivals on the debate stage.

But mounting a third-party bid and gaining ballot access across the country is a monumental undertaking, and Kasich has said if he doesn’t win his home state on March 15, it’s game over for him.

Kasich or any third-party contender could join up with one of the existing minor parties, either the Libertarian Party or the Constitution Party. Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson was the Libertarians’ presidential candidate in 2012, and he is likely to carry the banner again in November. He may balk at stepping aside for a Johnny come-lately.

There’s the option of starting a whole new party and giving it some cool new name. That could happen if the Republican Party as we know it today implodes under the weight of a Trump nomination, or flies apart with competing contenders at the July GOP Convention in Cleveland.

If a new and reformed Republican Party emerges from the chaos of this election cycle, that would be a positive development. We’re watching in real time Republicans trying to come to grips with a party they no longer recognize and is trying to forge a new identity.

Can that happen in less than two weeks, by March 15? That’s the unofficial deadline for launching a serious third-party bid. So far it’s all talk and no action.

          Douglas Cohn’s new book, “The President’s First Year: None Were Prepared, Some Never Learned – Why the Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency,” is available in book stores.

          Twitter @WMerryGoRound

© 2016 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND

 

 

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