Donald Trump has now won six primaries in a row. He currently leads in the five most recent polls in Indiana, which holds its primary next Tuesday, May 1, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls. Trump also has the endorsement of legendary college basketball coach Bobby Knight.
Texas senator Ted Cruz continues to oppose Trump, however. On Wednesday, Inquisitr reported that he named Carly Fiorina as his running mate, and today, CNN reported that he received the endorsement of Indiana governor Mike Pence.
But even if he can pull off an upset in Indiana, it’s going to be very difficult for Cruz to catch Trump in the delegate race — he currently trails “The Donald,” 994-566, according to Real Clear Politics.
The bottom line is that barring a total Trump campaign collapse, he will be the Republican nominee for president.
For this reason, The Washington Post reported that Republican leaders are now starting to “fall in line” behind Trump.
“Republican stalwarts opposed to Trump remain fearful of the damage the unconventional and unruly billionaire might inflict on the party’s down-ballot candidates in November. But many also now see him as the all-but-certain nominee and are exhausted by the prospect of a contested July convention…
“‘People are realizing that [Trump]’s the likely nominee’ said Tim Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor and onetime endorser of Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. ‘The hysteria has died down, and the range of emotion is from resignation to enthusiasm.'”
The Anti-Trump Movement Persists
But here is where this election differs from others — and why any “enthusiasm” for Donald Trump as head of the Republican party is likely misplaced: while primary voters generally coalesce behind the eventual nominee, that does not appear as likely in this election — a CNN poll in March revealed that 35 percent of Republicans will vote third party if Donald Trump wins the nomination.
This is not merely due to Trump’s past comments about women, or his advocacy of a wall at the Mexican border, which has great potential to alienate Hispanics from the Republican Party. Trump also has to worry about opposition from within, namely the #NeverTrump movement — a collection of political conservatives who have banded together to oppose Trump’s nomination on account of his past support for causes and politicians who were antithetical to their cause, as well as his often brash behavior.
This anti-Trump movement coalesced with the January 21 issue of National Review, “Against Trump,” which featured essays from prominent conservative Republicans like Dr. Thomas Sowell, Brent Bozell, Erick Erickson, Glenn Beck, Michael Medved, and Edwin Meese on why they cannot support a Trump candidacy.
On February 22, Erickson went one step further; while he stated in National Review that he would vote for Trump if he were the GOP nominee, he then wrote for his website, The Resurgent, that he would not do so under any circumstances.
“If Trump were elected, portions of the conservative movement would compromise the movement to be one degree from Donald Trump. The intellectual institutions on which we have made our case for limited government and freedom would crumble.”
On April 29, David French of National Review wrote that while there are no good options (“Oppose Trump and you’ll be blamed if he loses…If by some miracle he wins, you’ll be shut out from Trump’s administration”), Republican voters need to think long-term.
“So, yes, the options are all bad — in the short term. But broaden your view beyond the race against Hillary, and the choice becomes easier: Will you sacrifice your integrity, your moral fiber, and your intellect for the sake of a single election cycle?”
The movement has Republican pundits nervous. For instance, David Limbaugh, a conservative columnist who supports Cruz but would vote for Trump if nominated, speculated on Hannity on April 28 that while many #NeverTrump supports would hold to their pledge, and while many Trump supporters would revolt if Cruz got the nomination, “I’m hoping that’s just the intensity of real intense voters on both sides — maybe 20 percent on each.”
Limbaugh then went on to cite Hillary Clinton as the unifying factor for Republicans to unite behind the eventual nominee, whether it’s Cruz or Trump.
But whether or not these anti-Trump Republicans will “come home” in November remains to be seen. In recent weeks, the #NeverTrump movement has gained steam. On April 28, for instance, Mark Levin, a popular conservative talk show host who supports Cruz, announced that he was joining the #NeverTrump movement, citing the alleged “dirty tricks” and “sleazy tactics” of Trump surrogate Roger Stone.
On April 26, Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, wrote an open letter to Sarah Palin, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee and Phyllis Schlafly over their support for Donald Trump that was re-printed by Breitbart News.
“He’s declared his support for single-payer healthcare. That puts him to the left of Obamacare. He’s re-declared his support for Planned Parenthood. He’s re-supporting tax increases. He’s supported crony capitalism. He’s endorsed ‘touchback’ amnesty. He wants the U.S. to break the Geneva Convention…Two weeks ago, Mr. Trump took the left’s side in the North Carolina transgender bathroom controversy.
“Last week Mr. Trump announced—guess what?—he’s not just pro-abortion, he wants the pro-life plank in the GOP platform removed, thus divorcing the Republican Party from the pro-life movement. Sarah, Ben, Mike, Phyllis: How can you still support this man?”
Other Republicans are speaking out as well against Trump. On April 28, Tim Miller, co-founder of America Rising and previously a supporter of Jeb Bush, tweeted the following:
Conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin took Miller’s lead, and catalogued a number of Republicans who have supported Donald Trump over and against their conservative principles, including Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, and John Kasich, “whose monumental ego and refusal to give up the spotlight made it that much more difficult for Cruz to consolidate the anti-Trump vote.”
In a separate column, Rubin challenged the notion that Hillary Clinton will have just as hard a time uniting her party as Donald Trump would for the general election.
“Democrats will rally around Clinton — some grudgingly, for sure. But whatever problems in turnout and enthusiasm she may have, they pale in comparison with the train wreck on the GOP side if Trump is the nominee.”
This “train wreck” is the fact that Donald Trump fares poorly in general election match-ups with Clinton. While Trump can point to a Rasmussen poll that shows the two tied, the Real Clear Politics average of polls shows Clinton with a 7.3 percent lead in the most recent polls. Clinton has consistently led Trump in head-to-head match-ups since last July.
Republican Establishment: Charting a Donald Trump-free Course?
This has Republican leaders worried, as they try to distance themselves from Trump prior to his likely nomination. Evidence of this was seen in a fund-raising email from House Speaker Paul Ryan to supporters that spoke of “uniting” and “not dividing” Americans — a possible reference to Trump’s perceived divisiveness.
“Imagine, for a moment, if politics was actually about uniting Americans, not dividing us.
“That’s the kind of America that House Republicans are working towards. It’s a confident America, where people are empowered to reach their full potential.”
The email made no mention of Trump — let alone the presidential election. While this may be in part to campaign election laws, it is likely that the email would have mentioned the presidential election if someone other than Donald Trump was the likely nominee.
What do you think? Can Donald Trump be stopped from getting the nomination? Or, is it too late?
[Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images]