Republican voters need only look to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to understand that GOP lawmakers will willingly sacrifice the White House in order to save their own hides.
As the Republican Party begins to accept the very real possibility that front-runner Donald Trump will be their presidential nominee, McConnell “laid out a plan that would have lawmakers break with Mr. Trump explicitly in a general election,” The New York Times reported.
Despite his overwhelming victories thus far, leaders of the party think Trump will lose in the general election and will hurt Republicans down-ticket.
According to The Times, resistance to Trump “runs deep,” and a “desperate” behind-the-scenes “mission to save the party” from the real estate tycoon stalled out. As a result, “two campaigns have drafted plans to overtake Mr. Trump in a brokered convention.”
The newspaper said the effort to “unite warring candidates behind one failed spectacularly.”
An overture from Senator Marco Rubio to Mr. Christie angered and insulted the governor. An unsubtle appeal from Mitt Romney to John Kasich, about the party’s need to consolidate behind one rival to Mr. Trump, fell on deaf ears.
Kasich in particular has drawn the ire of GOP power brokers, having struggled to compete in the first four states to vote.
“He’s just flailing his arms around and having a wonderful time going around the country, and it just drives me up the wall,” a senior Republican senator said, according to The Times.
Several senators said McConnell was “especially vocal” about how Kasich was being irrational.
If Trump is the nominee, McConnell allegedly has told Senate colleagues, “We’ll drop him like a hot rock.”
And he may treat Trump’s loss in the general as a given, allowing senators to distance themselves from the candidate and run negative ads against him.
While still hopeful that Mr. Rubio might prevail, Mr. McConnell has begun preparing senators for the prospect of a Trump nomination, assuring them that, if it threatened to harm them in the general election, they could run negative ads about Mr. Trump to create space between him and Republican senators seeking re-election. Mr. McConnell has raised the possibility of treating Mr. Trump’s loss as a given and describing a Republican Senate to voters as a necessary check on a President Hillary Clinton, according to senators at the lunches.
All of which suggests that when it comes to political theater, the best is yet to come in the 2016 election. At the very least, it’s going to be an interesting spring and summer.