Joe Scarborough may be overstating the matter just a bit when he says that if Trump falls even one vote short of a clinch [for the GOP presidential nomination], the convention will “look for someone else.” Overstating, but not by much.
And we should also consider how well positioned Ted Cruz will be to take advantage of a Trump fail. My initial thought is that we can’t really know until the effectiveness of his lobbying at state level caucuses and conventions becomes clearer, but his ability to annoy so many within the GOP establishment should give us a hint.
Add to that the reality that at about the time delegates get comfortable with the idea that Trump can be dispatched, should things head that way, they will start to process the fact that they can choose anyone they like, and not just the three currently on offer (and perhaps particularly not those three given what an embarrassment the GOP nomination process has been overall).
Should the convention move into free-for-all mode, it’s very likely delegates will want to consider the attractiveness of a candidate not tarnished by months of bashing on the campaign trail. So, yes, we’re talking about Paul Ryan, the man who is so deftly positioning himself as the go-to guy by energetically denying any interest in his party’s nomination. What a kidder!
Maybe Politico exaggerates by citing one Democratic source who calls a Ryan nomination a “nightmare scenario” for the Clinton campaign, but if I were on her team, I’d rather not be put in the position to test the hypothesis.
The Republican leadership must be incredulous that the best the Democrats have to offer is a terribly flawed Hillary Clinton and a 74-year-old socialist senator from Vermont. They must be wondering how it came to be that with such an opportunity, somehow Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, two of the most unlikeable creatures in politics today, came to be their most likely standard bearers, at least so far. And, surely, they must be working hard to find a way to fix their problem.
Politico writes that Ryan would be stronger than Trump in states like Colorado, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Ohio, which may be true. My bigger fear is that Ryan, the decent, likeable family man from the Midwest, will not only contrast well will Hillary Clinton, but that he will give relatively moderate and independent voters an attractive option, especially as they contemplate what might have been. And, by the way, I don’t need to be told Ryan is no moderate, but he will be perceived as such, or at least as being able to bridge the gap between conservatives and moderates.
So, tonight as I watch the returns come in from Wisconsin, I will be pulling for Trump, hoping that he gets a boost on the way to his magic number before the convention so the GOP establishment can’t pull a fast one and ruin everything.