Republican Party leaders can’t stop Donald Trump because they created him.
From super PACs that trained their fire on Trump’s weak rivals to party rules designed to crown an early winner, the GOP has unwittingly put the billionaire businessman on the fast track to the nomination.
Republicans could have their nominee by March 15 or even earlier — just the way they planned it. Only they never planned on Trump.
The party bigwigs who angered conservatives and other GOP voters by force-feeding them a series of unexciting establishment favorites like Mitt Romney and John McCain deserve a lot of the blame. They bought the line from Beltway pundits that Trump could never win and arrogantly believed voters would “come to their senses” and unite behind a Trump alternative.
Now they’re choking on their Kobe steaks as they watch angry voters unite behind the brash New Yorker.
The party nominating system also helped Trump. It gives power to large states with winner-take-all primaries, allowing the front-runner to become unstoppable very quickly. Oops.
Even some states that award delegates based on a proportion of the vote require candidates to get 20 percent to win any delegates at all — a tough challenge for any Trump opponent.
The fat cats who fund super PACs can also take a bow for Trump. They have allowed weak candidates such as Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to stay alive despite not even coming close to winning a state. Before the super PAC era, those candidates would have seen their fundraising dry up and been forced to fold.
The candidate with the biggest super PAC, Jeb Bush, bored voters to death while his PAC attacked Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for months while launching only a brief and way too late offensive against Trump. Cruz and Rubio’s super PACs only destroyed each other.
But the candidates deserve the biggest share of the blame for putting Trump on the brink of the nomination. They largely played it safe, spending all their time trying to be the Trump alternative. None of the candidates had a long-term plan to take out Trump involving weeks of pounding on the same message.
“Everybody followed the conventional wisdom that Trump would self-destruct and they spent their time competing for second place instead of trying to beat Trump,” said GOP consultant Rob Gray, an adviser for the Bush campaign.
Now it might be too late. Like it or not, party leaders are getting what they deserve.
And he just might end up winning.
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