Many national Republican officials are increasingly resigned to Mr. Trump’s looming presence. At a meeting of the Republican Governors Association this week in Aspen, Colo., donors and operatives mused about how to prevent him from hijacking the debate.
One idea that came up was to urge three leading candidates — Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor; Mr. Walker; and Senator Marco Rubino
— to band together and state that they would not participate in any debate in which Mr. Trump was present, using his refusal to rule out a third-party bid as a pretext for taking such a hard line. The thinking, according to a Republican involved in the conversations, was that the lesser-funded prospects who have been eclipsed by Mr. Trump would follow suit, and the TV networks airing the debates would be forced to bar Mr. Trump in order to have a full complement of candidates.
But none of the campaigns have shown any appetite for such solidarity, for reasons ranging from their strategic interests and not wanting to make Mr. Trump a martyr, to fear of making an enemy of Fox News, the preferred cable network of conservatives and the host of the first debate.Luckily for the GOP cooler heads prevailed but that the idea was even floated at this level is indicative of the Republican Establishment’s most glaring flaw.
The Republican Party has lost the popular vote in 4 of the last 5 presidential elections. The only election won was the re-election of a sitting president (Bush in ’04) during a time of war. Not only are these geniuses still in charge, these geniuses seem to believe that disenfranchising 25% of Republican primary voters (Trump’s support in the most recent national poll) through elite shenanigans is a smart strategy.
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