[Rushtalk] Battle on to stop Trump as Republican party slides into identity crisis

Carl Spitzer lynux at keepandbeararms.com
Mon Mar 28 08:33:03 MDT 2016

Washington Post, Reuters, MCT

Washington: Only a year ago, Republicans were congratulating themselves
on having the strongest field of presidential candidates in a generation
- diverse, highly credentialed conservatives who might be the salvation
of a party that lost the popular vote in five of the last six elections.

But now, the question is how close the Grand Old Party will come to
annihilating itself and what it stands for.

Donald Trump - dismissed by GOP elders for months as an entertaining
fringe figure who would self-destruct - has staged a hostile takeover
and rebranded the party in his own image. What is being left by the
wayside is any sense of a Republican vision for the country, or a set of
shared principles that could carry it forward.

A substance-free shoutfest billed as a presidential debate on Thursday
night marked a new low in a campaign that has seen more than its share
of them.

The front-runner and his three remaining opponents spent nearly the
entire two hours hurling insults back and forth, with Mr Trump at one
point making a reference to the size of his genitalia.

"My party is committing suicide on national television," tweeted Jamie
Johnson, an Iowa political operative who had been an adviser to former
Texas governor Rick Perry, one of the 11 Republicans whose presidential
campaigns have already been incinerated by the Trump phenomenon. The
latest, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, formally dropped out Friday.

It comes as wealthy party donors pour millions of dollars into
last-ditch efforts to derail Mr Trump's march to the Republican
presidential nomination.

Conservative groups such as the American Future Fund and Club for Growth
have reported a surge in contributions to back their anti-Trump advertising.

Operatives working to stop Mr Trump acknowledge that it's probably too
late to prevent him from winning more primaries than his rivals, and
their best hope may be to deny him a majority of delegates heading into
the Republican National Convention in July.

Conservative Solutions, an independent group backing Marco Rubio's
presidential bid, is also pouring millions into advertising to attack Mr
Trump in upcoming primary states.

"We're running a multistate, multimillion-dollar campaign against Donald
Trump and the con-man scam he's pulling on the American people," said
Jeff Sadosky, a spokesman for the group.

Republican leaders, meanwhile, are divided. Some are focusing their
efforts on stopping the billionaire celebrity, even if it means
overturning the will of Republican voters at the July convention in
Cleveland. Others are arguing that they should be coalescing behind him,
so that they will have their best chance of beating Hillary Clinton, a
candidate who is not without her own vulnerabilities.

Beyond that, some worry that even as Mr Trump is bringing record numbers
to the polls in the primaries, he is changing the very identity of the
party. He is a new kind of Republican, one who flaunts his apostasies on
conservative principles, who slings vulgar and divisive language, and
who has an ostentatious disregard for the system.

During the debate, Marco Rubio insisted, "We are not going to turn over
the conservative movement, or the party of Lincoln or Reagan, for
example, to someone whose positions are not conservative ... To someone,
for example, that has no ideas on foreign [policy] - someone who thinks
the nuclear triad is a rock band from the 1980s."

Nonetheless, Mr Rubio said he would support Mr Trump if he is the
party's nominee. So did the other two Republican candidates, Ted Cruz
and John Kasich.

"The DC power brokers will drop someone in who is exactly to the liking
of the establishment. If that will happen we will have a manifold revolt
in this country," Mr Cruz said at the Conservative Political Action
Conference outside Washington.

"You want to beat Donald Trump, you beat Donald Trump with the voters,"
he said.

Washington Post, Reuters, MCT


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