Republican insiders are realizing what they once thought was unthinkable: Donald Trump could win their party’s presidential nomination. This, despite the fact that he violates nearly every tenet of their constituency: he is not small government; he wants to increase taxes on the rich; he is not libertarian; he is not a free marketer; he is not evangelical (though he has support among some Prosperity Gospel pentecostals); and he is not recognizably conservative (except for opposing immigration). And yet he strikes a strong chord among ordinary people who do not care all that much for ideology, and he may well get the nomination. In fact, he may well get elected president.
Walter Hudson asks Can You Remain a Republican with Trump as the nominee? , implying that the answer is “no.” Evangelical blogger Thomas Kidd writes of Donald Trump and the Coming Christian Political Realignment, saying that conservative Christians cannot and will not support him.
So it’s time to ask of you Republicans out there the question that kicked off the Republican candidate debates: Will you support the Republican nominee for president? If it is Donald Trump?
Ironically, Trump was the only one back then who said “no.” The other candidates said that they would. I wonder if they will stick to their pledge if they all get beaten by a man they consider to be an unqualified demagogue.
But what about you? Even if you don’t like Trump, would you vote for him over Hillary Clinton? If you would not vote for him under any circumstances, like Prof. Kidd, will you vote for the Democrat (Clinton? Sanders?), an Independent (Jim Webb?), a third party candidate (who?), or just stay home?
From Eliana Johnson, Donald Trump — the Establishment Now Thinks He Could Win | National Review Online:
It began as whispers in hushed corners: Could it ever happen? And now, just three months from the Iowa caucuses, members of the Republican establishment are starting to give voice to an increasingly common belief that Donald Trump, once dismissed as joke, a carnival barker, and a circus freak, might very well win the nomination.
“Trump is a serious player for the nomination at this time,” says Ed Rollins, who served as the national campaign director for Reagan’s 1984 reelection and as campaign chairman for Mike Huckabee in 2008.
Rollins is not alone in his views. “Trump has sustained a lead for longer than there are days left” before voting begins in Iowa, says Steve Schmidt, who managed John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. “For a long time,” Schmidt says, “you were talking to people in Washington, and there was a belief that there was an expiration date to this, as if there’s some secret group of people who have the ability to control the process.”
But for Trump, a dip in the polls after the second debate that many predicted was the beginning of the end has arrested; and for nearly four months, he has remained at the top of the polls. Now, long-time GOP strategists who were expecting Trump’s act to wear thin a couple of months ago worry that he can’t be stopped, or at least that he has a significant chance of winning the nomination.
It’s a drastic departure from the near-universal sentiment of the Republican establishment voiced when Trump announced his candidacy in June. In the weeks following his campaign launch, many Republicans fretted not that Trump would win the nomination, but that his incendiary remarks about illegal immigrants would irreparably harm the GOP brand. (The former Bush-administration press secretary Ari Fleischer compared Trump to a roadside accident. “Everybody pulls over to see the mess,” he told Politico in late June. “And the risk for the party is he tarnishes everybody.”) Now, many members of the GOP establishment are concerned less that Trump will hurt the brand than that he’ll become its standard-bearer.
“I know all of us dismissed Trump, early on, all of the so-called experts,” Fox News’s Chris Wallace said Sunday. “‘Summer fling,’ ‘momentary amusement.’” But Wallace, who interviewed Trump late last week and aired portions of the interview on his show Sunday, said he finds himself feeling differently now. “As I watched that interview and I heard what he had to say . . . I am beginning to believe he could be elected president of the United States,” he said.