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As Hillary Clinton savors a spectacular win in South Carolina yesterday, the Republican Party finds itself in a desperate situation with Donald Trump growing in strength and aiming withering attacks on Marco Rubio, a/k/a Marcobot, and the very scary Ted Cruz. As a result, establishment Republicans continue to grasp for ways to stop Trump. The big problem, the GOP establishment faces, however, is the fact that they have dumbed down the party base and welcomed in extremists and lunatics that now make pleas to logic and reason impossible. The New York Times looks at the growing GOP desperation in a lengthy story. Here are article highlights:
The scenario Karl Rove outlined was bleak. Addressing a luncheon of Republican governors and donors in Washington on Feb. 19, he warned that Donald J. Trump’s increasingly likely nomination would be catastrophic, dooming the party in November. But Mr. Rove, the master strategist of George W. Bush’s campaigns, insisted it was not too late for them to stop Mr. Trump, according to three people present.
At a meeting of Republican governors the next morning, Paul R. LePage of Maine called for action. Seated at a long boardroom table at the Willard Hotel, he erupted in frustration over the state of the 2016 race, saying Mr. Trump’s nomination would deeply wound the Republican Party. Mr. LePage urged the governors to draft an open letter “to the people,” disavowing Mr. Trump and his divisive brand of politics.
In public, there were calls for the party to unite behind a single candidate. In dozens of interviews, elected officials, political strategists and donors described a frantic, last-ditch campaign to block Mr. Trump — and the agonizing reasons that many of them have become convinced it will fail.
Behind the scenes, a desperate mission to save the party sputtered and stalled at every turn. Efforts to unite warring candidates behind one failed spectacularly: An overture from Senator Marco Rubio to Mr. Christie angered and insulted the governor. An unsubtle appeal from Mitt Romney to John Kasich, about the party’s need to consolidate behind one rival to Mr. Trump, fell on deaf ears.Despite all the forces arrayed against Mr. Trump, the interviews show, the party has been gripped by a nearly incapacitating leadership vacuum and a paralytic sense of indecision and despair, as he has won smashing victories in South Carolina and Nevada. Donors have dreaded the consequences of clashing with Mr. Trump directly. Elected officials have balked at attacking him out of concern that they might unintentionally fuel his populist revolt. And Republicans have lacked someone from outside the presidential race who could help set the terms of debate from afar.
Should Mr. Trump clinch the presidential nomination, it would represent a rout of historic proportions for the institutional Republican Party, and could set off an internal rift unseen in either party for a half-century, since white Southerners abandoned the Democratic Party en masse during the civil rights movement.
The American Future Fund, a conservative group that does not disclose its donors, announced plans on Friday to run ads blasting Mr. Trump for his role in an educational company that is alleged to have defrauded students. But there is only limited time for the commercials to sink in before some of the country’s biggest states award their delegates in early March. Instead, Mr. Trump’s challengers are staking their hopes on a set of guerrilla tactics and long-shot possibilities, racing to line up mainstream voters and interest groups against his increasingly formidable campaign. Donors and elected leaders have begun to rouse themselves for the fight, but perhaps too late.
Two of Mr. Trump’s opponents have openly acknowledged that they may have to wrest the Republican nomination from him in a deadlocked convention.
While still hopeful that Mr. Rubio might prevail, Mr. McConnell has begun preparing senators for the prospect of a Trump nomination, assuring them that, if it threatened to harm them in the general election, they could run negative ads about Mr. Trump to create space between him and Republican senators seeking re-election. Mr. McConnell has raised the possibility of treating Mr. Trump’s loss as a given and describing a Republican Senate to voters as a necessary check on a President Hillary Clinton, according to senators at the lunches. . . . . Of Mr. Trump, Mr. McConnell has said, “We’ll drop him like a hot rock,” according to his colleagues.
How did the GOP base become so insane and irrational? Look no farther than the welcome of the Christofascists into the party network of city and county committees. I personally recall my unease shortly after my resignation from the party when the local head of the Christian Coalition was voted in as the Vice Chair of the Virginia Beach Republican City Committee. Once the Christofascists were inside the tent their first cousins, the white supremacists were welcomed in. It has been a downward spiral ever since. Now, the death spiral seemingly is irreversible.