Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Ted Cruz Drops Out of Presidential Race - What Now for the Establishment?

After losing decisively to Donald Trump in Indiana, Ted Cruz announced tonight that he was dropping out of the GOP presidential nomination contest.   As a reader commented today on an earlier post, in someways, despite Donald Trump's demagoguery and flirtations with outright fascism, Cruz was the more frightening candidate given his religious extremism and apparently belief in a Christian Dominionist agenda that in effect longs for a right wing Christian theocracy in America.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at Cruz's announcement which comes after a day of insanity of the GOP side of the aisle, including Trumps's claim that Cruz's father was involved in the assassination of JFK.  Here are highlights (Politico also has coverage here):
Ted Cruz, the insurgent Texan whose presidential campaign was fueled by disdain for Washington, dropped out of the 2016 race Tuesday night, removing the last major hurdle in Donald Trump’s quest to become the Republican nominee for president.
Cruz’s decision came after losing overwhelmingly to Trump in the Indiana primary, all but ensuring that real estate mogul will claim his party’s mantle at the Republican National Convention in July.
“I said I would continue on as long as there is a viable path to victory. Tonight, I’m sorry to say, it appears that path has been foreclosed,” Cruz told a small group of supporters here Tuesday night. “Together we left it all on the field in Indiana. We gave it everything we got, but the voters chose another path.”
Cruz also said he would “continue to fight for liberty,” but did not address whether he would support Trump as the nominee.
In his last day on the campaign trail, Cruz unloaded on Trump, calling the businessman a”pathological liar” and a “narcissist” who was proud of being a “serial philanderer.” The attacks were reminiscent of the broadsides Sen. Marco Rubio launched against Trump in the waning days of his own presidential campaign — and a far cry from the lavish praise Cruz heaped on Trump for most of 2015, declaring, “I like Donald Trump.”

Meanwhile, moderate Republicans and the GOP establishment are now faced with the prospect of whether to support Trump, hold their noses and vote for a Democrat, or simply stay home and not vote.  If they chose the latter, many down ballot GOP candidates will likely be defeated.  Another piece in the Post looks at this dilemma. Here are highlights:
Anti-Donald Trump Republicans are starting to consider whether their opposition to a Trump presidency is so strong that they would be prepared to fight him in the general election — even if that means helping put an avowed enemy, Hillary Clinton, in the Oval Office.
One strategy under discussion is to focus on helping down-ballot GOP candidates while sitting out the presidential race under the belief that Trump will lose to Clinton no matter what. A more drastic and difficult option: rallying support for a third-party candidate who could uphold traditional Republican positions but would almost certainly steal votes from Trump.
“You have to bet on sanity,” said GOP strategist Stuart Stevens, who helped lead the campaign of 2012 nominee Mitt Romney. “If this is one of those moments in history where for various reasons the party has to play out nominating someone who is completely unelectable . . . so be it.”
The dilemma came into focus Tuesday night, when Trump scored a decisive victory in Indiana over Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas
“Indiana further confirmed the ‘stop Trump’ efforts didn’t work and spending even more resources in an effort keep him from the nomination will just be expensive political therapy or theatre at this point,” former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, a former Marco Rubio backer who is now neutral, said in an email.
“The GOP is going to nominate for President a guy who reads the National Enquirer and thinks it’s on the level,” tweeted Mark Salter, a former aide to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Then he added a Clinton campaign slogan: “I’m with her.”
For some Republicans, the prospect of a President Clinton is more palatable than a President Trump — not because they like Clinton, but because they could fight her on familiar terrain, rather than watching an unpredictable Trump use the power of the White House to remake the GOP.

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