Is the contest for the Republican nomination over? Well, not quite, but it’s on a very thin edge. If the results of the New York primary were depressing, the results of this week’s primaries were devastating. Trump won every one of five states amassing a vote of more than fifty per cent in each. Senator Cruz was shut out, winning no delegates and finishing behind Governor Kasich in all but one. For his part, Kasich won a handful of delegates and had the distinction of finishing second in four states. Unfortunately, however, finishing second at this point is something like being given the Miss Congeniality title in a beauty pageant—it may provide a passing boost of morale but it gets you no closer to a tiara. The margin of Trump’s victories showed that, for reasons we still find baffling, his support within the Republican Party seems to be broader than many of us had assumed and hoped.
Just before this week’s primaries, Cruz and Kasich has announced a limited and somewhat murky detente. According to their agreement, Kasich agreed to withdraw advertising and other resources from Indiana while Cruz would act similarly in New Mexico and Oregon. For whatever reason, however, Kasich then stated that he was not actually telling his supporters in Indiana to vote for Cruz rather than himself. That seemed peculiar because Kasich had seemingly recognized that only Cruz has any chance of defeating Trump in Indiana, and only a Trump defeat there would keep alive any chance for the “brokered convention” on which Kasich’s slender hopes have rested.
The consensus of most observers was that the arrangement between Cruz and Kasich was too little, too late and we would be hard pressed to rebut that conclusion. Still, it is at least possible that the arrangement might allow Cruz to win Indiana, despite trailing Trump in polls by six points just now. Even if Cruz were able to pull it off, however, it is not clear that the defeat would be more than a speed bump for Trump, who also enjoys a substantial lead in California. On Wednesday, Cruz sought to shore up his rapidly declining position by announcing his selection of Carly Fiorina as his prospective running mate. While Ms. Fiorina did have some interesting moments during the Republican debates, we would be astonished if she brought much strength to Cruz’s desperate battle for survival.
While the outlook is bleak, we think it would be premature for Cruz and Kasich and the #NeverTrump movement to raise a white flag, at least until after next week’s Indiana primary. On the other hand, it is by no means too soon to think about, and possibly act on, the recruitment of an independent candidate running on behalf of those who can stomach neither Trump nor Hillary Clinton. As we have previously noted, various hypothetical candidates have been mentioned and we will not rehash our survey of the field. We know of no evidence that any of those whose names have been mentioned could be persuaded to take on the task. Any Republican who participated in such an endeavor could expect to be vilified as a traitor, and it would be charged that such a candidate would hurt Trump more than Clinton. That might or might not be so, but if it should be the case, we would only respond “So be it.”
While luxuriating in his primary victories, Trump elected to prove again that he can in fact speak from a teleprompter. On this occasion, Trump proffered what was billed as a major foreign policy address. We will not here burden ourselves or our readers with a detailed analysis of the address, but will rest on the comments of Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post. We commend to readers Ms. Rubin’s full analysis and will here quote only her summary. We think it was right on target:
The most remarkable aspect of Donald Trump’s foreign policy speech was that someone actually wrote it out and put it in the teleprompter. It was so filled with internal contradictions, falsehoods and genuinely crazy assertions that one would have thought Trump was speaking extemporaneously. It was a vivid display as to why he is thoroughly unprepared to become commander in chief.
Rubin then added:
If anything comes of it, one hopes that a third candidate, sickened to his stomach, will have watched this, jumped from his seat and declared himself ready to rescue the country from the possibility that Trump might be president.
To which we can only say, Amen.