The doomsday scenario for establishment Republicans — both Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich losing their home states Tuesday — could force the nightmarish prospect of supporting despised outsider Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz as a last-ditch effort to block Donald Trump’s hostile takeover of the GOP, pundits said.
“What you’re going to see is Ted Cruz emerge as the most viable alternative to Donald Trump, and you’re going to see some unholy alliances that six months ago, if you thought they’d be supporting Ted Cruz, you could have sold them a bridge,” said Florida Republican strategist Alex Patton, who called Tuesday night’s primary losses “devastating” to Rubio, adding: “The glimmers of hope seem to be fading quickly.”
There are other options if Kasich and Rubio simultaneously implode — but they are highly unlikely. Establishment leaders could simply pressure them to stay in the race anyway and try to siphon enough delegates from Trump to force a brokered convention. Or the two could form a ticket with one agreeing to back the other.
“Pool their resources, pool their supporters and get ready for the convention,” said Dennis Hale, a political science professor at Boston College, who admitted that scenario would still face small odds.
GOP operative Dave Carney said Kasich, who still hasn’t won a state, and Rubio, who needs to secure a whopping 84 percent of the remaining delegates to lock up the nomination, won’t be denying Trump the nomination as much as stopping the only other candidate who can take out the blustery billionaire, Cruz.
“The whole reason we’re in this mess is 17 extremely selfish people thought they could be president of the United States, and it’s crazy talk,” said Carney. “Jim Gilmore and George Pataki and Rick Santorum? What was the deal there? It’s crazy. John Kasich and Marco Rubio now are this month’s version of crazy.”
Carney added that Mitt Romney and other vocal party bigwigs have only made matters worse. “This is what the establishment doesn’t get … they have zero influence with other people,” said Carney. “It boggles the mind these people continue to think somehow their opining about how bad Donald Trump is, is doing anything but helping Donald Trump. If you’re scared of Donald Trump winning, you need to back Ted Cruz.”
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