Politico looks at the situation of sane, non-extremist Republicans. Here are highlights:
Ted Cruz’s sudden suspension of his campaign following his double-digit loss to Trump in Indiana Tuesday night is forcing anti-Trump Republicans to finally confront the Hobson’s Choice of a general election matchup between Hillary Clinton and a demagogic conspiracy theorist untethered to conservative principles.
While many conservative stalwarts are conflicted and stuck in a state of paralysis, some are considering the ultimate betrayal.
Schmidt predicted that “a substantial amount of Republican officials who have worked in Republican administrations, especially on issues of defense and national security, will endorse Hillary Clinton in the campaign.”
Trump is eager to unify the Republican Party, recognizing Cruz as a “great competitor” with a “brilliant future” just hours after suggesting that the Texas senator’s father was involved in the assassination of JFK and promising to “win big in November.
Cruz, in his farewell speech, didn’t mention Trump. At least three Republican senators —Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Nebraska’s Ben Sasse and Cory Gardner of Colorado — signaled Tuesday night that they remain opposed to a Trump candidacy. Like many in the #NeverTrump brigade, they’re thinking beyond November 2016 and about the very survival of the Republican Party.
"If we nominate Trump, [the party] is lost beyond this cycle. I think we lose women for a generation, in big numbers,” said Katie Packer, who served as Romney’s deputy campaign manager and now leads the Our Principles super PAC that spent $10 million in an effort to stop Trump.
“There’s a feeling among Republican women that I talk to that the people who would nominate this guy don’t have any real respect for us as women—especially professional women. They would rather see us in a Mad Men era, where women knew their place and catered to their husband, cooked dinner and met their sexual obligations and didn’t have any other role in society. And there are other people who are supporting him because the guy’s a blatant racist and they identify with that.
“So there’s a sense that if this is who my party is, I don’t really identify with it anymore.”
But the most absolutist opposition to Trump is largely held by the GOP’s donor class and Washington-based establishment—the very people Trump and his supporters have delighted in offending from the start.
For the last several months, the increasingly panicked GOP establishment looked at the first mainstream Republicans to line up behind Trump—first, endorsements from Chris Christie and Jeff Sessions, later former RNC staffer Rick Wiley taking a job with Trump’s campaign—as “Vichy Republicans,” likening their appeasement of an outsider who, in their view, was hijacking their party to the appeasers of Adolph Hitler during his takeover of France.
"It’s like everything that I was taught to believe about conservative philosophy is totally out the window,” Packer said. “When Newt Gingrich and Bill Bennet are defending Trump and making excuses for him—these are people I used to look to as real pillars of conservatism—it’s like bizarro world. It just doesn’t make sense to me anymore."
But now that Trump’s takeover is nearly complete, Republicans are at odds over who that label applies to more—the conservative appeasers of Trump or those willing to back a Democratic nominee.
[I]t’s very difficult for me to come up with any principle by which Donald Trump is aligned with the Republican Party,” said Stuart Stevens, the strategist who guided Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign.
“That’s the same argument the Communist Party used for years—you have to do it for the party. I’m not going to go along with the Brezhnev logic. If the party stands for nothing but election, it stands for nothing.”
Many long-time conservatives find themselves in a state of paralysis, unable to decide which side of that line they’re going to be on. “The goal is to defeat the Democratic candidate,” said Fred Zeidman, a prominent Republican in Houston who was been a bundler for Jeb Bush and eventually opted to support Cruz. But asked if he would support Trump, he hedged. “I’m just not ready to answer that question.”
It is time for Sanders to suspend his campaign and his followers to focus on keeping Trump out of the White House come November.