Faced with growing demands and theatrics from Donald Trump - including new hints that he might run as an independent if he is "not treated fairly" - the panic gripping the GOP establishment is growing. In my view, Ted Cruz should engender similar panic, but lacking Trump's ability to self-finance, Cruz's insanity and extremism is less disturbing to those who bankroll the GOP. It seems that Trump has the GOP establishment right where he wants them. Should he run as an independent, he could clearly throw the 2016 election to the Democrats. Should he become the GOP nominee, the same result could occur. A piece in the New York Times looks at the growing panic. Here are highlights:
For months, much of the Republican Party’s establishment has been uneasy about the rise of Donald J. Trump, concerned that he was overwhelming the presidential primary contest and encouraging other candidates to mimic his incendiary speech. Now, though, irritation is giving way to panic as it becomes increasingly plausible that Mr. Trump could be the party’s standard-bearer and imperil the careers of other Republicans.
Many leading Republican officials, strategists and donors now say they fear that Mr. Trump’s nomination would lead to an electoral wipeout, a sweeping defeat that could undo some of the gains Republicans have made in recent congressional, state and local elections. But in a party that lacks a true leader or anything in the way of consensus — and with the combative Mr. Trump certain to scorch anyone who takes him on — a fierce dispute has arisen about what can be done to stop his candidacy and whether anyone should even try.That has led to a standoff of sorts: Almost everyone in the party’s upper echelons agrees something must be done, and almost no one is willing to do it.With his knack for offending the very constituencies Republicans have struggled with in recent elections, women and minorities, Mr. Trump could be a millstone on his party if he won the nomination. He is viewed unfavorably by 64 percent of women and 74 percent of nonwhite voters, according to a November ABC News/Washington Post poll. Such unpopularity could not only doom his candidacy in November but also threaten the party’s tenuous majority in the Senate, hand House seats to the Democrats and imperil Republicans in a handful of governor’s races.
“If he carries this message into the general election in Ohio, we’ll hand this election to Hillary Clinton — and then try to salvage the rest of the ticket,” said Matt Borges, chairman of the Republican Party there, where Senator Rob Portman is facing a competitive re-election.Pat Brady, the former state Republican chairman in Illinois, where Senator Mark S. Kirk is also locked in a difficult campaign, was even more direct. “If he’s our nominee, the repercussions of that in this state would be devastating,” Mr. Brady said.
In Washington, many of the party’s top operatives believe that there is no way even the strongest Senate candidates could overcome the tide if Mr. Trump were leading the ticket.“It would be an utter, complete and total disaster,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, himself a presidential candidate who has tangled with Mr. Trump, said of his rival’s effect on lower-tier Republican candidates. “If you’re a xenophobic, race-baiting, religious bigot, you’re going to have a hard time being president of the United States, and you’re going to do irreparable damage to the party.”Two of the most potent financial networks in Republican politics, that of the hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer and another led by the industrialists Charles G. and David H. Koch, have each had preliminary conversations about beginning an anti-Trump campaign, according to strategists involved. But Mr. Trump has already mocked Mr. Singer and the Kochs, and officials linked to them said they were reluctant to incur more ferocious counterattacks.“You have to deal with Trump berating you every day of the week,” explained a strategist briefed on the thinking of both groups.[S]ome Republicans repelled by Mr. Trump feel little urgency to attack him because, they say, he is preventing what they see as an even less desirable standard-bearer — Senator Ted Cruz of Texas — from consolidating the votes of hard-line conservatives. “He’s keeping Cruz where he is,” Scott Reed, a veteran Republican strategist, said of Mr. Trump.
The GOP in its current incarnation needs to die. If we are lucky, Trump or Cruz might help to lead the party to an electoral wipe out and set the stage for a much needed new beginning.