Sam Stein has accurately characterized the competition for the Republican nomination as a dick measuring contest. Donald Trump is making fun of Marco Rubio’s large ears, his sweating, and his apparently unquenchable thirst, while Rubio makes fun of Trump’s small hands, presumably an indicator of both limited sexual prowess and the inclination to steal, and suggested that Trump was wetting his pants during the last GOP debate. Both esteemed candidates accuse each other of fiddling too much with the spray tan, and Trump calls Rubio a ‘Choke Artist’ while Rubio calls him a ‘Con Man.’ In all that verbal schoolyard violence Ted Cruz, the legitimate heir to Senator Joe McCarthy in US politics, almost looks and sounds civilized. But the Republican Party has bigger problems than that the debate between its candidates has sunk to kindergarten level. Today, on Super Tuesday, Donald Trump can set a ‘huge’ step towards securing the GOP nomination, and if he wins as big as is now predicted, there is almost no feasible scenario for any of the other candidates to stop him, which would make a break-up of the party more than likely.
For quite some time now Republican strategists have argued than the contest should be narrowed down to Trump and one other candidate as soon as possible, to at least have a chance to keep the nomination away from The Donald. That other candidate would have to be Rubio or Kasich, and preferably Rubio, because Ted Cruz as the nominee is an even bigger nightmare for the party’s establishment than Trump. The strategists may get what they wish for and then some. If Cruz loses Texas today he’ll probably drop out, because if he cannot win his home state he definitely cannot win anywhere else, and even if he narrowly wins Texas chances are he won’t last much longer. Likewise, if Rubio does poorly today he may not stay in the race until March 15th and risk being whooped in his home state, Florida, by Donald Trump, who leads him in the polls there by 20%. That would leave only Kasich to stop Trump, and although he may win his home state Ohio he doesn’t have much of a chance in other states. It was always believed that Trump benefitted from having many competitors, but he might benefit even more from having just one.
The GOP leadership has now turned to plan B, and are talking publicly about a brokered convention, which is an option if Trump doesn’t win a majority of delegates. Mitt Romney, the loser in 2012, has climbed out of his car elevator and started making some noise, but picking him as the nominee would almost certainly mean alienating a large segment of Trump’s supporters, so the choice would be between President Trump and losing the election and ending up with a split party.
Plan C, which might go into effect if Trump wins a majority of delegates, is even more hilarious. In that case part of the Republican elite would consider fielding a third party candidate against the candidate of their own party. The irony here is that after all the pressure on Trump to promise that he would support the eventual nominee, those who pressured him live by a lower standard.
It is hard to see how a break-up of the GOP can be avoided, either because of a brokered convention and Trump fielding an independent campaign, or because Trump becomes the nominee and Republicans start distancing themselves from him. Lean back and enjoy!