Has Donald Trump brought the Republican Party to the point of splitting apart? After Super Tuesday, when “The Donald” captured huge victories in seven states, the Republican establishment appeared to come out of their coma and react. Mitt Romney, their erstwhile candidate who lost to Barack Obama resoundingly in 2012, gave a blistering speech on Thursday, carried live on all the Cable networks. He attacked Trump as “a fraud” and “a phony” saying “he has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president.” He warned that Trump stirred “a brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.” Senator John McCain, their nominee who lost to Barack Obama in 2004, endorsed Mr. Romney’s words, charging Trump with making “dangerous” statements on foreign policy.
Historians are recalling the era of President Theodore Roosevelt, who split the Republican Party in two in 1912 to run for a second term against his successor, President William Howard Taft. TR had pledged to be a one term president when McKinley was assassinated and he became president. Later, he said, “I would have cut off my right arm not to have made that pledge.” Roosevelt created the Progressive “Bull Moose” Party and ran once more in a bitter campaign that resulted in the victory of Woodrow Wilson on the Democratic ticket.
Returning to the present scene: Trump was on his jet flying to Maine for a rally when Romney launched his blistering attack. When he appeared later to a cheering crowd of fervent admirers, he derided Romney as a “failed candidate”, “choke artist” and “loser” to President Obama in 2012. That evening in the Republican debate in Detroit, Trump appeared composed and feisty throughout, deflecting moderator questions with his usual aplomb. He did not appear affected by the turmoil in the media about a possible “contested convention” at the end of the campaign.
What does a “contested convention” mean? As explained by Ben Ginsburg, a Republican lawyer and expert on the party rules: At the end of the campaign, a candidate may not have won the required number of delegates to become the party’s nominee: 1,237 delegates. On the first ballot, pledged delegates must vote for the person who won specific number of votes in their state. However, on succeeding ballots, they may change their votes. In today’s contest, there are three other remaining candidates: Senator Ted Cruz who did win three states on Super Tuesday, Senator Marco Rubio, who won one state and Governor John Kasich who came close in Vermont but lost to Trump. All three have said they are not dropping out of the race at this time. It appears that they may form a “team” to campaign vigorously to keep Trump from reaching the required number for the nomination. Rubio must win his home state of Florida. Kasich is counting on a win in Ohio.
Cruz has already won Texas. These three states carry heavy numbers of delegates. If they succeed in certain other states, they may be able to thwart Trump from reaching the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination. At the same time, Republican big donors and super Pacs are launching massive ad campaigns against Trump in the weeks ahead, throwing millions of dollars against him to stop future wins in the states on the calendar. Major newspapers across the country are running editorials warning against a Trump presidency as dangerous for the nation and the world. They include: New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times and Detroit Free Press. Cable talk shows on CNN, MSNBC and Fox are covering this as the number one story.
The day after Mitt Romney and John McCain urged American voters to reject Donald Trump, supporters reacted across the nation in his defense. Lola Butler, 71, who voted for Romney in 2012 , said about his message, “I personally am disgusted by it. I think it’s disgraceful. You’re telling me who to vote for and who not to vote for? Please. There’s nothing and nobody who’s going to dissuade me from voting for Trump.” Hundreds of others gave interviews on radio and television to reporters, saying “He tells it like it is. He has my vote.” , “No one is going to tell me how to vote.!” “He says what we are thinking.”
Conservative talk radio hosts reported their listeners were “livid”, “mad” and “on the verge of tears” when Mitt Romney urged them to abandon Donald Trump. Rush Limbaugh, whom many call Mr. Republican, warned, “The Trumpists out there are going to feel like the establishment is trying to manipulate them, sucker them, and they are just going to dig in deeper.” Steve from California told Rush, “The Republican electorate is not a bunch of completely ignorant fools. We know who Donald Trump is and we’re going to use Donald Trump to either take over the GOP or blow it up.”
Finally, European leaders and newspapers have been expressing dismay as Donald Trump wins millions of voters in contests across the United States. In England, Parliament held a debate after receiving a petition from thousands of their constituents urging that Trump be barred from entering Great Britain. When Trump cited Benito Mussolini’s boast, “It is better to live one day as a lion than one hundred years as a sheep.” , Italian critics objected almost as vigorously as American. Perhaps the most deadly view from overseas was published in the German magazine, Der Spiegel when they called DonaldTrump, “the world’s most dangerous man.” Timothy Egan, commented on that appraisal in his New York Times Op Ed, “The Germans know a thing or two about that topic.”