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Presidential Horse Race 2016: If Donald Trump won’t commit to principles, Ted Cruz should come back

One avenue people of the #NeverTrump persuasion are holding out for is the possibility of running an Independent conservative candidate against Donald Trump. There are numerous potential problems with this line of thinking, not the least of which is trying to find a candidate that everyone could agree on.

Or, maybe Ted Cruz would be willing to give the campaign another try – and this time, the #NeverTrump people Ted Cruz familywill welcome him with open arms.

Joel Gehrke of the Washington Examiner reports, “Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Tuesday that he's willing to resume his presidential campaign if one of the remaining states were somehow to break in his direction, although he indicated it wasn't likely…

“Cruz didn't act as if he thought that were a serious possibility, but he also refused to endorse presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Cruz also implied that Trump shouldn't rest too easily between now and the Republican National Convention in July, although he didn't speak as if he'd be the next rival to Trump this year.”

Cruz has also refused to release his delegates. Why should he?

It would not make sense for Cruz to close all avenues so early. Though he would be facing a huge delegate deficit in Cleveland even if the race turns around today, Cruz still has his successful delegate operation to lean back on should Republican voters have a sudden change of heart.

We all know Trump’s utter lack of ideological foundation and refusal to commit to Republican principles has failed to convince many Republicans and conservatives to back him. Should the voters get a serious case of buyer’s remorse in the next few weeks, there could be a way for Cruz to come back and make a game of it.

Ted himself admits this scenario isn’t likely. But if Republicans and conservatives can’t come to grips with Trump before July, Cruz might just be the right one to reenter the picture.

The #NeverTrump people have to realize that sometimes, stuff just happens

As the presumed Republican nominee for over a week now, Donald Trump has turned his focus to Hillary Clinton for the general election match-up and also to criticizing the wavering members of his own party who are still reluctant to back him.

Gone are the days of “Lyin’ Ted” and attacking his Republican opponents at every turn. We’re also not hearing much about the “rigged system” of late, with The Donald having to spend more time during interviews discussing tax policy and real issues than he’s done in the past. Now that the horse race is over, the media is just beginning to talk about policy. Funny how that is.

But just because Trump’s no longer concerned about winning the nomination doesn’t mean those who were and still are opposed to him have given up the ghost.

Alexis Levinson of National Review writes, “Some people involved in what came to be called the #NeverTrump movement lamented that their efforts to bloody the front-runner wouldn’t have been necessary if any of the other candidates had been willing to attack him themselves. Many laid the blame on Ted Cruz, calling him an unacceptable alternative to Trump. Cruz’s camp blamed John Kasich, saying the race would have unfolded differently if he’d dropped out and let Cruz go head to head with Trump.

“Others blamed the strategy of anti-Trump groups, saying it’s no help telling voters who to be against if you can’t tell them who they should be for. Several said the Republican National Committee should have stepped in and effectively excommunicated Trump from the party. And still others wondered whether Trump had ever been stoppable in the first place.”

I would argue the last point is probably the most plausible. Donald Trump proved impervious to any and all efforts to stop him, including those fostered by the Republican establishment and many in the conservative movement. All along, the biggest obstacle to toppling Trump stemmed from the fact each of the “old” methods of derailing candidates didn’t work on the New York reality TV star this year.

For example, the 2016 campaign showed that negative campaign ads are no longer the surefire way to bring down a candidate with already sky-high unfavorable ratings. In the age of social media, candidates like Trump are more than capable of controlling his message and speaking directly to his own supporters.

Add in the friendly campaign coverage from ratings hungry news outlets such as Fox News, CNN, Breitbart and The Drudge Report and Trump had every means at his disposal to reach the people he wanted to reach and counter any negative effects from the ads. People that liked him merely tuned them out.

Social media has changed just about every aspect of our world, not the least of which is the way politicians communicate with their backers. People no longer must rely on biased journalists for their news…they can rely on friendly news outlets and bloggers instead!

To demonstrate, as of yesterday, Trump had 7,661,938 likes on his Facebook page and 8.07 million Twitter followers.

In one of his Tweets from yesterday, Trump posted, “#RepMikeKelly  Great job on @foxandfriends this morning. Thank you for the nice words!”

The content of the message isn’t as important as the fact Trump can reach over 8 million people several times a day (or even several times an hour) and either say nice things about someone or cut them down entirely.

It’s a huge incentive for commentators to try and keep the guy happy when you’re staring down at the possibility of over 8 million people being enraged at you at the tip of Trump’s fingers.

But perhaps the most important reason of all for Trump’s success and the one the #NeverTrumpers choose to ignore is the fact Trump’s anti-establishment “outsider” message was the music that Republican and conservative voters wanted to hear this year.

Exit polls consistently showed voters cared about things such as “tells it like it is”, “is from outside of Washington”, “is self-funded and beyond the influence of lobbyists”.

I personally believed that once the field narrowed to Trump and Cruz that many of the other candidates’ voters would naturally choose Ted in a two-way contest. I was wrong. I along with practically everyone else thought Ben Carson’s supporters would reject Trump in wholesale fashion and flock to the Evangelical-friendly, socially conservative Ted Cruz once Carson bowed out.

It didn’t happen. We were similarly wrong with Marco Rubio’s voters, Jeb Bush’s voters and every other candidate’s followers.

Had John Kasich gotten out of the race much earlier, would the #NeverTrump vote have consolidated around Cruz? Perhaps, but not necessarily; Indiana dispelled that notion.

Instead of the #NeverTrump movement pointing fingers at each other now for their failure to stop Trump back then, it would be more productive to accept the fact Trump was uniquely successful in bringing together the disaffected elements of the Republican Party and conservative movement to forge a winning coalition at this point in history.

Sometimes, stuff just happens.

As I’ve been arguing for the past few weeks, as soon as Trump was able to change the narrative in the race to “the system is rigged,” people stopped listening to the differences between the candidates on issues and saw the contest in simple, “us-versus-them” terms.

It also didn’t help the #NeverTrump movement that when the time came to back Cruz as the lone alternative to Trump, many in the group seemed almost apologetic when endorsing the Texas senator.

You’d hear a lot of things like, “Ted Cruz wasn’t my first choice, but he’s the only one left with a chance to beat Trump, so now he’s my guy.” That’s hardly a ringing endorsement and it made them sound more desperate than capable – and it just fanned the “rigged system” claims from Trump.

It’s almost as though you didn’t need to listen to Cruz, you just had to know he was the alternative to Trump and that’s enough.

The problem is, being the anti-Trump was not enough to help Cruz win. Being “against” somebody sometimes works; but more often, it doesn’t.

The #NeverTrumpers will no doubt be licking their wounds for a long time over their 2016 failures. The question is how they’re going to move forward still without unity even amongst themselves as to what to do next.

If you can’t think of anything else to talk about, there’s always Trump’s VP choice, right?

Late last fall when it was clear Donald Trump was a legitimate candidate and his lead in poll after poll was most likely real, there were a number of stories in the media about various candidates “surging” in early states like New Hampshire.

I wrote at the time that these momentum “rumors” were probably the product of bored journalists looking for something other than Trump to write about. In most cases I turned out to be right.

A similar phenomenon is happening now with Trump’s potential VP choice. With the party nomination all but in Trump’s hands and the convention still over two months away, reporters are just itching for something compelling to write about.

Enter Trump’s choice for running mate. We’re getting frenzied daily updates from the media on The Donald’s potential candidates. It reminds me a little of the lead-up to the recent NFL draft, where sports commentators couldn’t get enough of speculating on which team would select which athletic freak to improve their rosters.

For now, it’s all a matter of surmising who Trump will anger the least with his biggest decision to date.

Katie Glueck of Politico reports, “Several of the country’s top socially conservative leaders, from Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council to Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America, said Trump’s choice of running mate would be among the most important factors in deciding whether to activate their extensive grass-roots networks on the real estate billionaire’s behalf…

“’He’s not part of the Republican conservative family,’ added Richard Viguerie, a longtime fixture of conservative politics with close ties to evangelical power brokers. ‘He needs to prove to us that he’s worthy of our support. It’s not sufficient to say he’s not Hillary. He needs to do more than that. … The ballgame on that is personnel.’”

It should be noted that Politico also published a story yesterday on uber-establishmentarian Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee being put forward for Trump’s VP. Such a move would truly be the death knell of Trump’s candidacy, as the Iran Deal-brokering Corker is a non-starter for any conservative with access to the internet.

I don’t want to downplay the importance of Trump’s choice of running mate – it is essential to his ability to prove to conservatives that he’s going to change the direction in Washington. But the point is, we won’t know what Trump really thinks about the subject until he calls a press conference and actually announces his choice.

And even then, who knows how much of an opportunity that person will actually get to speak.

Glueck’s article did mention the Evangelical leaders indicated Ted Cruz would be a great choice for Trump. That’s a no-brainer. But after all that’s happened between the two top vote-getters in the Republican nomination race, I wouldn’t bet the farm on it ever happening.

But the speculation will continue in the meantime…and it gives the journalists something to write about.

Poll: Trump and Hillary virtually tied in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida

Finally today, one of the #NeverTrump group’s main arguments for continuing to oppose Donald Trump’s candidacy is he’d get swamped in the general election by Hillary Clinton.

The Real Clear Politics average does show Clinton ahead, but a new poll reveals he’d at least be competitive with Hillary in key states.

Nick Gass of Politico reports, “Buckle up for the next six months: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are effectively tied in the swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to the results of a Quinnipiac University survey released Tuesday.

“With voters split along lines of gender, race and age, the presumptive Republican nominee and the likely Democratic nominee appear poised for tight battles in those states…”

It makes me chuckle whenever I hear that Trump on the ballot automatically equals an electoral disaster. I’m not saying it can’t or won’t happen, but it’s clear from the run of the primary race The Donald carries with him a non-traditional coalition of supporters, one that would seem to make him competitive in areas where a “regular” Republican might not be.

If Trump can somehow bring conservatives behind him and manage to hold on to his angry disaffected anti-establishment voters, he’ll have a heck of an alliance. But again, he can’t do it without the skeptical elements of the conservative base behind him.

I don’t care how many “Bernie bros” Trump thinks he can win over. If the conservative movement stays on the sidelines, Trump will lose. And it will be his own fault, too.

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Conservatives have something to prove, too...

When all these true conservatives can show how they delivered Presidents McCain and Romney to the White House maybe I'll believe they can do it for Trump, otherwise I think he should just keep harvesting the millions of votes he is getting from coal miners, roustabouts, truckers and their wives and let the purists keep trying to elect Hillary. Simply declaring that you possess the keys to the White House, that presumably you withheld them from the past two nominees but can deliver them any time you choose sounds to me like you think you can force Mexico to pay for it as well. You might believe he needs to make the sale to you, but a good salesman doesn't waste his time with unqualified buyers, and right now the #nevertrump folks look like a bunch of door-slammers and tire-kickers to me.


Cruz Did Not Win Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Florida

This whole article is moot...Cruz didn't win Ohio, Kasich did....Cruz didn't get 2nd place in Ohio, Trump did....Cruz didn't get Florida, Trump did and by a wide margin...Cruz didn't get Pennsylvania but Trump did and got all the delegates. What kind of a reality are you people living in anyway. I'd love to have had Ben Carson or Mike Huckabee for the nominee but please do a reality check before commenting. If a candidate can't get first place in Key states, he ain't gonna win no General against Hitlery...that's a plain fact.

Cruz vs the republican party, now what?

As a registered democrat who has never voted for a democratic presidential candidate and understood what Ronald Reagan meant when he said "I did not leave the democratic party, the democratic party left me", I was in support of Senator Cruz when he stood toe to toe with the republicans in the Senate fighting against the status quo.
The republicans made promises for the past number of decades and never fulfilled them. Any rational person can understand and accept the fact that there are limitations to what a minority party can accomplish, or even a majority party who can not meet the number of votes required as set up by the rules of the respective chambers of Congress. However, one would expect that at least the republicans would show a little more brains and backbone in an attempt to accomplish and fulfill their campaign promises instead of continually compromising giving the progressives a little of what they want each time there is compromise until the progressives have won the battle getting everything they wanted through a number successive compromises by the republicans.
That is where Senator Cruz comes in and up ends the apple cart by actually attempting to fight for what the party committed to. The likes of john boehner, mitch mcconnell and now paul ryan are too eager to continue the status quo.
No one can agree with everything that any particular candidate stands for such is the case with both Cruz and Trump now that Cruz has suspended his campaign. So we as the American voters have to decide if what trump is campaigning on is in the best interests of the American citizens. Do we care if the likes of paul ryan supports trump if paul ryan stands for open borders and so called free trade where the American citizens lose jobs and trump is willing to shake things up and restore the America that I grew up in?
I supported Senator Cruz, now he is out of the race, I will hold my nose and vote for trump.

Destroying Ted with faint praise

This epitomizes the problem:

“Others blamed the strategy of anti-Trump groups, saying it’s no help telling voters who to be against if you can’t tell them who they should be for."

With a few lukewarm exceptions, the GOP would not support Cruz wholeheartedly, even when he was the last viable candidate standing - he embodies their platform, but of course actually hewing closely to the party platform is anathema to them.

They created Trumpoenstein, and now they must either support him or slay him, and quickly! Not only that, having driven their base to a level of anger where Trump looked like the right kind of punishment to unleash on the party, destroying Trump now could be suicidal - they have created a situation which may be lose-lose if they don't embrace The Donald.