COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., April 25, 2016 — The Republican establishment likes to think they control the presidential nominating process. They don’t like outsiders. They were all behind Jeb Bush. They didn’t shy away from Chris Christie and they flirted with Marco Rubio. John Kasich is their last hope and he’s not doing all that well. The only unanswered question is who do they hate (or fear) more: Ted Cruz or Donald Trump?
They don’t like Ted Cruz because he came to the Senate bucking the establishment in Texas and didn’t fall into line behind Mitch McConnell; he was a freshman senator who dared to filibuster. When McConnell lied to his face about the Ex-Im Bank, Cruz called him on it.
Then there’s Trump, another outsider. He’s not beholden to anyone in the party or its donors. In fact, like a lot of businessmen, he’s been a donor himself—to both parties.
So which of the two does the Establishment hate more? Why is Kasich still in the race with no hope of winning or even getting more than a few more delegates?
Kasich’s wife, as it turns out, gave the game away on Twitter by tweeting that they were in the race to deny votes to Trump. There had also been speculation that Kasich was in the race to see what kind of a deal he could make with Trump. Vice president? Postmaster general? Secretary of something? These were all speculated.
The usually perceptive Dick Morris speculated on a Trump-Kasich ticket, although he later covered his bases by saying Kasich might team up with Cruz as well.
With today’s announcement of the Cruz and Kasich campaigns cooperating in several upcoming states, the answer is clear: The GOP hates Trump more.
Politics makes for strange bedfellows.
Kasich and Cruz cooperating is even stranger than Lindsey Graham endorsing Cruz, an endorsement that must have made Cruz wince.
In Colorado, establishment politicians lined up behind Kasich, but few others did. Most activists went for Cruz, and those who didn’t went for Trump. Former Secretary of State Scott Gessler, for example, who ran for governor in 2014 as a conservative, ran for national delegate pledged for Cruz. Immediately after being elected he was seen talking to the Kasich people. The speculation is that he would fulfill his pledge by voting Cruz on the first round but then switch to Kasich on the second.
The new alliance makes that easier to do.
That means that Republican support is coalescing around Cruz who, although he is very unlikely to win outright on a first-round vote, is more likely to win the second round.
Besides Graham, former candidates Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Rick Perry and Carly Fiorina have endorsed Cruz. Rand Paul hasn’t endorsed Cruz, but he did endorse Cruz in his Texas Senate race, and father Ron Paul endorsed Cruz for president early on. Marco Rubio hasn’t made a formal endorsement but has come very close.
Only Chris Christie and Ben Carson have endorsed Trump. The latter’s supporters were shocked at the announcement and haven’t necessarily followed their leader into the Trump camp.
In part that may be because, as Rasmussen reports, most Americans don’t care very much about who endorses whom. Trump does, though.
“Wow, just announced that Lyin’ Ted and Kasich are going to collude in order to keep me from getting the Republican nomination. DESPERATION!” he tweeted.
Trying to brand someone “lyin’” is pretty rich coming from a man who this weekend admitted that his angry campaign rhetoric is all an act.
If that’s true, then we haven’t yet seen the @RealDonaldTrump. Nor has he sewn up the nomination. Resorting to ploys like “the one who gets to the convention with the most delegates, even if it isn’t 1237, should be nominated” says that he knows he won’t make it either.
Regardless, the GOP have tipped their hand. They’re in the #NeverTrump crowd, even if it means supporting Cruz.