03.16.2016 1

Was #NeverTrump too little, too late?

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By Robert Romano

Every week that goes by, and Donald Trump racks up more victories closer to the magic number of 1,237 delegates, and the more desperate the Washington, D.C. political establishment grows to stop him.

This week, it is political activists Bill Wichterman, Bob Fischer and Erick Erickson hosting a closed door meeting in Washington, D.C. on Thursday “to strategize how to defeat Donald Trump for the Republican nomination, if he is the Republican nominee for president, to offer a true conservative candidate in the general election.”

So, they want to come up with a plan to stop Trump from getting the nomination. And if that fails, to start a new political party.

But why don’t they just back Ted Cruz? Why all the subterfuge?

The party is more than halfway through this process, and only two candidates have a clear path to nomination, and that is Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

It should have been clear Cruz was the alternative to Trump after Iowa, and if not then, then after New Hampshire, or if not then, then certainly after South Carolina, or if not then, then absolutely after Super Tuesday on March 1.

Seriously, how many defeats does it take before somebody drops out? And how many wins does it take for Cruz to prove he is the most viable contender to Trump?

The hour is growing late. That is, if the goal is really to stop Trump.

The truth is, the “try and drag this out until the convention” strategy for candidates not named Cruz has only made it more, not less likely, that the nominee will be Trump by lowering the threshold of support he has needed at the ballot box to rack up victories.

That is not to say the results would necessarily be any different if it had been a two-way race for most of the way. It might be even more in Trump’s column, but consider the alternative strategy currently being pursued.

Even if Trump is denied a clear majority of delegates, it will be extremely hard politically for the Republican Party to sell somebody as the party nominee who did not get the most votes. Voters will think the process was rigged no matter how many rules hounds show up on TV calling it “legitimate.”

Stop Trump, okay. But at what cost?

It’s fine and well as far as it goes, it certainly is a strategy that conceivably could stop Trump, even if he has the most votes and the largest plurality of delegates going into the convention. But there is going to be a lot of pressure in the opposite direction for the obvious reason that politically, it’s going to stink worse than an eleventh hour, back-room budget deal if the guy with the most votes doesn’t get it.

Politically, it could be a catastrophe for Republicans.

I suspect, headed into Cleveland, a lot of people will realize that and will reluctantly cede to Trump if he’s ahead in the delegate count. If so, then holding out for the convention could actually be counter-productive if the goal is to stop Trump. Just saying.

Because if you disenfranchise millions of voters, you cannot exactly expect them to show up in November. By then, odds are the Republican establishment would have come to its senses by then and backed the candidate with the most support.

For those who are die hard anti-Trump, then, the time to drop out and back Cruz is rapidly narrowing if it hasn’t already passed to make a difference. Folks might have considered this possibility far earlier in this process when it was clear what was happening.

So why hasn’t the establishment already backed Cruz?

Because if the Washington, D.C. political establishment were actually serious about simply stopping Trump, they would have backed Cruz weeks ago particularly after Cruz won Texas and it looked all but certain Rubio would lose in Florida.

The reason that has not happened, and what it all really indicates is that even if the process gets to Cleveland undecided, the real goal of #NeverTrump is not merely to deny Trump the nomination, but also Ted Cruz, the top two vote getters for the Republican nomination to date.

Ultimately, the goal is to stop the American people, who in this process have abandoned the more traditional Washington, D.C. political establishment in droves.

It is more than a little ironic that Wichterman, Fischer and Erickson who have spent their careers supporting constitutional, limited government policies would risk, for starters, throwing the nation’s courts into a near-permanent liberal majority over a collective Trump temper tantrum.

At the end of the day, I suspect cooler heads will prevail and the imminent threat of a Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders appointed court will overcome whatever misgivings the establishment has with Trump or Cruz. If it doesn’t, this trio will go down in history as the Republican Party’s Ralph Nader, whose run in 2000 cost Al Gore the presidency and was never forgiven by the Democrats.

Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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